Oct 11, 2023 - News

Adams Morgan's SunTrust Bank site to become affordable housing

The plaza in 2016, when construction of the Line Hotel was visible in the background. Photo: Matt McClain/ The Washington Post via Getty Images

Adams Morgan's concrete plaza has defeated its latest threat: luxury condos.

Driving the news: Truist Financial Corp., the owner of the infamous SunTrust Bank site and its concrete plaza, has donated the $6.5 million property to an affordable housing developer.

Why it matters: The saga over the future of Columbia Road and 18th Street NW has dragged on for years, while the area's affordable housing crunch has grown.

Catch up quick: In 2016, Monty Hoffman, who is known for building The Wharf, proposed erecting a six-story residential building.

  • Cue the controversy.
  • Two neighborhood groups sued, arguing the 4,000-square-foot plaza in the heart of Adams Morgan — home to a farmers market — was dedicated to the public by previous owners.
  • Less sympathetic observers called it an ugly concrete square.

What's happening: The nonprofit Jubilee Housing now plans to turn the site into 40 apartment units, eligible for households at or below 60% of the area median income, according to deed documents filed last Friday.

Yes, but: It's unclear how much of the public plaza will remain under the plan.

What they're saying: "In the longer term, we'll look toward developing the site to continue meeting the community's needs," said Jim Knight, the head of Jubilee Housing, per the Washington Business Journal.

  • The other side: The Kalorama Citizens Association, which had opposed Hoffman's proposal for the site, sounded more hopeful under the new owners. "I look forward to a better outcome with Jubilee involved," association president Denis James told the Journal.

Flashback: It's a land of activism.

  • The triangle held the Knickerbocker Theater until it collapsed under 28 inches of snow in 1922. Rebuilt as the Ambassador Theater, Jimi Hendrix played there and Vietnam War protesters once rallied, the Post reported.
  • When it turned into a parking lot, neighbors later fought off BP from opening a gas station, spray-painting "BP Our People Want No Gas Station."

What's next: With federal low-income housing tax credits, Jubilee anticipates a November 2025 construction start date.

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