Housing Complex

Neighbors Plan to Sue to Stop Adams Morgan Hotel Project

In advance of the Zoning Commission's Monday deliberation on the proposed Adams Morgan hotel, a group of neighbors is doing what it can to put the brakes on the project.

Three neighborhood groups will announce on Monday their intention to sue the city to stop the hotel project, which they say will displace local businesses and has been planned without sufficient input from the community. (It will also involve the demolition of the building on Champlain Street NW that houses the Washington City Paper office.) They've also asked Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton to send an inquiry to the Office of Planning regarding the process behind the hotel plans.

Norton's office confirms that Norton is planning to send the inquiry to OP but maintained that this is ultimately a city issue in which Congress shouldn't get involved.

“We agreed to see these constituents on the condition that they understood this office does not interfere with home rule decisions of local officials," says Norton spokesman Scott McCrary in a statement. "It is a strong principle with us, because we insist that other members of Congress respect the decisions of local officials. We do advise members that, if they have a question or a concern, they should make an inquiry. We are sending an inquiry to the Office of Planning indicating that some residents of Adams Morgan are concerned that the city ensures it has complied with local regulations on displacement.”

Yesterday afternoon, the neighborhood groups staged a small protest in front of the church that's set to become the hotel's lobby. "Businesses that have been here for generations are threatened by this capital flow," organizer Chris Otten said into a microphone to the dozen or so neighbors gathered. "The wealthy customers step out of the hotel and see the small community businesses on Columbia Road, and see the fancy restaurants on 18th Street. Where do you think they go?"

Otten accused Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham and OP of refusing to discuss these neighborhood issues with local residents. He also said OP is ignoring the city's Comprehensive Plan and causing gentrification.

"That's discrimination," Otten said. "We're getting ready to sue."

UPDATE October 18: Here's the letter Norton sent to the Office of Planning.

Comments

  1. #1

    If they don't like it, then maybe they should buy the property and turn it into a library.

  2. #2

    Waste of time.

  3. #3

    No community input? Jesus...the community has been talking about this property for 10 years and the hotel for at least 8.

  4. #4

    No community input, i.e., not the result of the input that they wanted.

  5. #5

    Wow. This is nimbyism at it's worst. There is overwhelming support in the neighborhood for the hotel. As evidenced by the picture above where it appears they got about 5 nimbys rallied? And that sign?! They do realize the MTP library is like 5 blocks away and brand spankin new? And Adams Morgan already has a community center(Marie Reed). and affordable housing (Jubilee Housing has a lot of units in the hood and Christ House is up the road to boot.) So it seems Adams Morgan HAS a library, Community Center, and Affordable Housing. What it doesnt have is a nice hotel. What it doesn't have is a dayside economy. Adams Morgan is a fun neighborhood. Tourists will gladly stay here and spend money in our neighborhood. And that's a good thing. The developers have knocked two stories off the hotel in RESPONSE to COMMUNITY INPUT and are leasing space on the cheap to a local nonprofit. What more do they want?!?!?!

  6. #6

    There have been a billion meetings. This is obstruction, plain and simple.

    Looking forward to them chaining themselves to the building.

  7. #7

    meep meep, Johnny. Also, Aaron, if you are going to mention neighborhood groups and specific about "three", listing their names would be helpful. I wanted to know who to tell that they do not represent my point of view.

  8. #8

    @AM Resident: Adams Morgan for Reasonable Development, Champlain Street Neighbors, and a third whose name I didn't catch.

  9. #9

    The NIMBY in the article says gentrification like it's a bad thing.

  10. #10

    This is ridiculous. I didn't see the small protest but I spoke to multiple people who walked by it and said that passersby were mostly in vocal disagreement with these protesters. EHN really shouldn't be giving them the time of day let alone sending an inquiry to OP about this.

  11. #11

    this is the same crew that suggested the city buy it and turn it back into church an operating church. They are overwhelming regular citizenry at the hearings because they can afford to spend four working hours killing progress while the rest of us are at work because... the trust funds pay for them to do so

  12. #12

    Otten, like Ralph Nader, supports home rule. Except when he disagrees with local decisions. Then he goes to Congress or the courts to overturn home rule. At least the Congressional Republicans tell you to your face they don't want you to have any rights. Otten, on the other hand, says he supports your self-determination and then stabs you in the back.

  13. #13

    DC and Silver Spring/Takoma fight noble NIMBY battles in defense of...nothing. Adams Morgan looks flyblown and run-down in the daytime. It should count itself lucky that a hotel wants to invest in the area. Cab drivers ought to love the idea, as Adams Morgan is underserved by public transportation. I lived in DC for years and now live in NY. I have seen how DC gets dragged struggling into development, only to lose in the end. Preserve this attractive property and turn it into a hotel or see it turned into a Rite Aid on the ground floor.

  14. #14

    After years of poverty and neglect, DC is now an affluent city. Many people cannot accept that.

  15. #15

    Why against...while the project is build it bring work for local building workers and after it will brings also many work places for local workers and specialized people so why against!

  16. #16

    Is Adams Morgan really underserved by public transportation? The 42, 43, 90,92, 96, the L2, the Circulators. The H1. Hello??

    There is more "affluence" now, yes, but still we have neglect and poverty. The two are hardly mutually exclusive.

  17. #17

    There are a lot of residents that are concerned about the impact that a project like this will have for very good reasons. I have seen comments from people who support the hotel say they don't want one on their street or their qaudrant of the neighborhood, that "one is enough." It's a classis example of people who don't live within arms reach of it, and who won't be displaced by it wanting all the benefits because they don't have to deal with the negative repurcussions, but when it comes to a discussion about placing it where they live and if it were going to disrupt their lives it would be a whole different story.

    The hotel has only been in the works since 2007/8, which is 5 years, it was supposed to be condos before the developers changed their minds. There was no opposition to the condo development, but the developers decided to go another route to develop a higrise hotel which is completely at odds with the existing zoning. That was their decision, not the community's decision. This is a lasting decision that will have a huge impact on the neighborhood, especially the people that live and work nearby, and will affect future development in the area. It is not something to be taken lightly or dismiss in the way many have in their comments.

    I hope that all of you would consider that if your home or your livelihood would be impacted negatively that you would also have concerns as well. It's easy to call it nimbyism when it isn't in your backyard, but the moment a development project impacts your life for the worse, you will become a NIMBY yourself. Just look at all the wealthy Republicans in Old Town Alexandria fighting against development and hotels on the waterfront.

  18. #18

    Plenty of people would be happy to live and work near this hotel. The property values will be going up, or already have in anticipation of this project.

  19. #19

    The people who are protesting are simply asking that the City planners actually use their own plan as legally required by DC law. This plan is called the DC Comprehensive Plan >>
    http://planning.dc.gov/DC/Planning/Across+the+City/Comprehensive+Plan

    It requires among other evaluation, a serious review of potential anti-displacement policies and strategies to pursue in mitigating gentrification brought on by major projects such as a luxury hotel in the middle of a residential neighborhood.

    This is not about one person, a former ANC Commissioner who is concerned about the project.

    This is about what is left of diversity and affordability in Adams Morgan. Rents will inevitably go up for the small businesses who focus their services on the local residents -- not wealthy out-of-towners. They will suffer and face their demise along with the loss of the patrons living in the surrounding properties who also face displacement by increasing rents brought on by such speculative capital flow.

    See these sites for more information >>
    * http://www.champlainstneighbors.wordpress.com
    * http://www.noadmohotel.com

  20. #20

    @Admo resident, instead of giving vagaries like "there are a lot of residents" and "comments from people," how about providing us with actual, specific, concrete evidence of this? The only people I have seen are against this project are the half-dozen or so would be Occupiers and clueless NIMBYs.

  21. #21

    Then you have never been to a neighborhood meeting about the hotel and heard many DIFFERENT people asking questions about the hotel.

  22. #22

    I hope this protest by a few residents doesn't derail this project. Yes those that would stay at a trendy boutique hotel are not likely to patronize the stores along Columbia east of 18th. Will the rents go up? Yes. Should the community groups work with the OP to help combat this and maintain the diversity in the neighborhood? Yes.
    though I see less impact on that retail and more on 18th itself with a push away from jumbo slices and trashy bars to more upscale restaurants and bars.

    Oh I forgot about all the JOBS!

  23. #23

    What are the specific negative effects of a hotel here? Be specific.

  24. #24

    @AdMo Resident: The developer took a different track because the church wasn't making enough money off the project. Everyone opposed to the project keeps pointing fingers at the developer (who admittedly has an abundance of communication issues), but the real "bastards" in all of this is the church.

  25. #25

    I live a block away from the hotel and the only thing I oppose is the ridiculous tax break it's getting. Build whatever you want, but if it's not profitable without a tax break, forget it. The offset never benefits the city/community.

  26. #26

    "Businesses that have been here for generations are threatened by this capital flow," organizer Chris Otten said into a microphone to the dozen or so neighbors gathered. "The wealthy customers step out of the hotel and see the small community businesses on Columbia Road, and see the fancy restaurants on 18th Street. Where do you think they go?"

    I'm going to assume that those "wealthy customers" are going to spend their money wherever they like, just like anyone else. If the "small community businesses" are unable to attract those customers, well, so what? Propping up businesses that aren't able to attract customers isn't an appropriate function of government.

  27. #27

    This is crazy. As someone who lives one block from the hotel, I can't wait for it to open. This is a great example of historic re-use of a facility and will hopefully start a new wave of welcome change in our neighborhood. I am tired of every great restaurant taking space on U Street, 14th Street, and Penn Quarter and passing Adams Morgan over.

    Evan

  28. #28

    Admo Resident- (And for the record. I live 2 blocks from this would-be hotel and am in full support).
    It is fear mongering to call this a High Rise hotel. Clocking in at a whopping 72 feet, most of the apartments in this neighborhood are taller. Making it.. not even a highrise by Adams Morgan's standards. Isn't the Apartment building across the street from it like 80 feet tall? I'll give you this though. It's taller than my house. Traffic isn't going to grind to a halt due to a small boutique hotel either. Thats just more fear mongering ive heard floating around. Go stand on Calvert street in woodley park. Right between 2 of DC most ginormous hotels. Traffic flowing smoothy. Property Values doing juuuuuust fine. Restaurants open for LUNCH. I kid you not. LUNCH. The sky is not falling. This has been in the works for 6 years. Everyone is stoked on it. Take a xanax and we will wake you up when its over. I'll buy you a drink at the lobby bar.

  29. #29

    Too bad this project is getting such a hard time from a vocal minority. It is a way to save a unigue neighborhood landmark (and yes this tough location does deserve a tax break). I live a couple blocks away, and agree that it is exactly what is needed to provide some day-time activity and continue the evolution away from the drinking-centric establishments that currently rule the AM economy. Ask the mom & pop establishments within a block or two of the Wash Hilton if they would prefer that it was not there....

  30. #30

    washingtonposter, just what "mom and pop establishments within a block or two of the Wash Hilton" would those be? Please be specific.

  31. #31

    Why isn't our comment being accepted??

  32. #32

    Fixed. I imagine it was screened out because of the links, which, to our filter, smack of spam.

  33. #33

    The people who are protesting are simply asking that the City planners actually use their own plan as legally required by DC law.

    This plan is called the DC Comprehensive Plan >>
    http://planning.dc.gov/DC/Planning/Across+the+City/Comprehensive+Plan

    It requires among other evaluation, a serious review of potential anti-displacement policies and strategies to pursue in mitigating gentrification brought on by major projects such as a luxury hotel in the middle of a residential neighborhood.

    This is not about one person, a former ANC Commissioner who is concerned about the project.

    This is about what is left of diversity and affordability in Adams Morgan. Rents will inevitably go up for the small businesses who focus their services on the local residents -- not wealthy out-of-towners.

    They will suffer and face their demise along with the loss of the patrons living in the surrounding properties who also face displacement by increasing rents brought on by such speculative capital flow.

    See these sites for more information >>
    * http://www.champlainstneighbors.wordpress.com
    * http://www.noadmohotel.com

  34. #34

    "It requires among other evaluation, a serious review of potential anti-displacement policies and strategies to pursue in mitigating gentrification "

    It's an empty church. Who is being displaced?

  35. #35

    The people who are protesting are simply asking that the City planners actually use their own plan as legally required by DC law.

    This plan is called the DC Comprehensive Plan.

    It requires among other evaluation, a serious review of potential anti-displacement policies and strategies to pursue in mitigating gentrification brought on by major projects such as a luxury hotel in the middle of a residential neighborhood.

    This is not about one person, a former ANC Commissioner who is concerned about the project.

    This is about what is left of diversity and affordability in Adams Morgan. Rents will inevitably go up for the small businesses who focus their services on the local residents -- not wealthy out-of-towners.

    They will suffer and face their demise along with the loss of the patrons living in the surrounding properties who also face displacement by increasing rents brought on by such speculative capital flow.

  36. #36

    So preventing a hotel from going here will stabilize rents and ensure that businesses in Adams Morgan remain profitable in perpetuity?

  37. #37

    I chose to make my home in Adams Morgan more than 20 years ago because of its diversity and human scale. The proposed hotel would threaten these attributes which make Adams Morgan a fun, prosperous, and safe place to live. The hotel would tower over the neighborhood dwarfing the surrounding properties. It would also create traffic hazards, especially for the children of our many families and the many elderly who are aging in place. The two hotels in Woodley Park create substantial traffic along Connecticut and Calvert, roads which are much wider than tiny Champlain and Euclid streets.

    While I applaud the proposed reduction in height, the hotel would still be out of proportion to the neighboring buildings and the increased traffic remains problems. Certainly a robust citizen involvement process is called given the significant impacts this project will have. I suggest a survey or something to compliment the marathon public hearings, that, as someone wrote, only trust fund babies [and I would add those who stand to profit from this project] can attend.

  38. #38

    Chris Otten. The great White Messiah. Fear mongering the displacement of all latinos in adams morgan at the hands of a towering 70 foot boutique hotel with like 40 rooms. Only 6 years of community input! Gridlock is in our future if we dont sue this development. This skyscraper must be stopped at all costs.

  39. #39

    How about someone addressing the potential $46 million real estate tax abatement the city has granted the developer if, in the words of Jim Graham "upon an operating and completed project." Call me crazy, but in any other jurisdiction, a developer seeking a rezoning would be paying to obtain the rezoning/entitlements for the project. I guess we live in bizarro land here... Exactly HOW does this benefit the city? Low-wage housekeeping and doorman jobs? These folks surely don't contribute huge tax dollars through income taxes... This whole thing stinks.

  40. #40

    @This is Crazy-Tax abatement's are a standard tool used all the time. In this case the city takes a large parcel generating 0 tax revenue and makes it more viable for the developers to get it off the ground when they know they will be wasting money in court battling nimbys along the way and such. On the back end the city wins. The abatement will run out and the city collects a steady stream of hotel taxes. Income taxes on the many jobs created. Sales taxes on all the shit tourists buy in our neighborhood. Its a no brainer for the city and was passed by our ANC.
    Still no cohesive stance from the nimbys either. Is it preventing the displacement of Latinos? Where were you all the last decade as apartment house after apartment house went condo? This hotel displaces nobody but the city paper staff. Is it this supposed grid lock from a handful of taxis dropping people off? Won't be an issue and pretty sure a traffic study confirmed that.
    Despite what the White Messiah would have you believe this isn't a "Batteries Not Included" situation here. A great movie to be sure and if this was a great old apartment house getting torn down in favor of a big evil hotel. With tenants tossed in the streets. I'd be right there with you Mr Otten.
    But this is a vacant church that will be PRESERVED and RESTORED as the lobby of a Hotel that displaces Nobody. In the long run it will either become condos or a hotel. The outcome on the gentrification front is the same either way. Condos will bring more cars and no jobs.
    What the church wont be is a library or a community center or any other city run entity because for starters Adams Morgan already has all those things and because the whole reason this is becoming a hotel is that the church wants to make some money off the sale and development. They aren't interested in selling it to the city for a song or they would have done it ages ago. All that will be accomplished here is wasting time and money. As was the case with the Mount Pleasant Library that if memory served Chris Otten ALSO SUED to prevent. Cost to the city as a result was reportedly over 1 MILLION dollars in delays. And now he wants the city to buy and make this a library? Some people you just can't please.

  41. #41

    Some neighbors of the planned Adams Morgan hotel will sue to stop it because they say a hotel will hurt local businesses. How could a hotel full of potential customers be worse for businesses than a church?

    I think the objection being stated by these neighbors is simple enough that any professed lack of understanding surprises me, especially from the savvy GGW crowd. It's a simple argument: a high-end hotel will raise commercial property values and introduce a wealthy clientele into the area. This will lead to neighborhood-serving retail establishments - places residents find useful - being displaced by cupcakeries, froyo shops, tapas bars, and other such establishments that are less useful to residents.

    It's not a new argument, and it is one that urbanists need to tackle thoughtfully. "Let the market decide" is a tempting easy answer, but not one that seems in line with either this blog's general philosophy or with the broader goals of urbanism.

  42. #42

    OMG these NIMBYs are crazy, just plain nutters. An 8 story building "towering" over neighbors, in the heart of the nation's capital? Bringing more daytime foot traffic into the neighborhood "running small retailers out of business"? Restoring and preserving a vacant historic church in a creative adaptive reuse scheme "displacing residents"? Nimbyland = bizarroworld.

  43. #43

    A 40-room hotel will have no appreciable impact on the neighborhood's retail mix. Really. Much larger hotels have not spurred any retail or restaurant development in numerous locations around town. I know for a fact that the 100-room hotel in my backyard has spurred exactly zero "cupcakeries, froyo shops, [or] tapas bars." Maybe that will happen once it's replaced by three much larger hotels with 500+ rooms, but I think I could live with that. Oh, wait, guess I defy predictions that "you will become a NIMBY yourself"!

    BTW, the other 30,000 hotel rooms in this city seem to not have caused the sky to fall. Yet.

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