As mentioned on Monday, GM has finally gotten around to his annual census of stores in Georgetown. His tardiness means that this census reflects more like 15 months, than 12 months, but it nonetheless presents a snapshot of how commercial Georgetown looks right now.
Before going further, GM should mention a little bit about his methodology. First, it’s important to know that it’s more of an art than a science. The term “shop” as used here refers to just about all commercial establishments: retail stores, restaurants, salons, gyms, etc. GM doesn’t count pure office space. The rule of thumb GM uses is if you can walk in without an appointment, it’s a shop. But again, sometimes it’s a close call. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
This year GM counted a total of 506 shops in Georgetown. That’s a slight drop from last year’s total of 508. As you’ll see, that doesn’t mean that there was only a net loss of two shops. Every year GM picks up a few shops that he simply failed to count in previous years. So, as you’ll see, there was a larger net loss of stores than two.
As mentioned Monday, here’s the breakdown of openings and closings:
- Shops opened since Mar. 2014: 43
- Shops closed since Mar. 2014: 51
- Shops the moved within Georgetown: 12
So the actual net loss eight, not two. (And even that number is a little skewed by Macaron Bee, which closed it’s Wisconsin Ave location and merged it with Lady Camelia. GM counted that as a move. Again: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯)
Last year GM counted a net gain of nine shops. So this is a big turnaround, although it might be more in line with previous years. 2012 and 2013 had net losses of 35 and 13 respectively. Much of this can be explained by the mall. In 2013 the last wave of construction-related closures drove up the numbers. And in 2014, the repopulation of the finished product goosed the openings a bit.
The most stores GM ever counted was 527. With the mall reconfiguration, we’ll probably never see that many shops again. But there are still a bunch of vacant spaces and buildings yet-to-come that will provide opportunities for us to at least get a lot closer to that high water mark. Continue reading
Last night the ANC met for its July session. GM could only stay for a little over an hour, but he nonetheless caught some important discussions:
Short Term and Long Term Rentals
The acting director of the DC Department of Consumer Regulatory Affairs, Melinda Bolling, was on hand to discuss an issue of great concern to Georgetowners: short and long term rentals.
The short end of that discussion primarily related to a topic that GM has covered previously: the rise of AirBNB in Georgetown. Commissioner Tom Birch spoke at length on the concerns that residents have with these properties. The two primary complaints relate to properties rented out as “party houses” and the increase in transience that comes regardless of whether the property is a party house or not.
Director Bolling was sympathetic to the complaints and cited some of the action that the city has taken recently against some of the party houses. But the unspoken message was this: even though this use is illegal under current law, DCRA will only bring enforcement action against troublemaking houses. The agency is considering new rules that would address this use (much like how the taxi commission dealt with Uber) but nothing is coming soon. So no wide sweeps will be forthcoming. If you don’t like your neighboring AirBNB, you’re going to need to complain that it’s a nuisance somehow. Mere illegality isn’t going to do it (GM inferred).
As to the long term issue, that concerns the legality and safety of properties leased out primarily to GU students. DCRA is working through a long list of rental properties identified to it by GU as housing students. DCRA wants these properties “in the system” so getting the landlord to acquire a license and an inspection is the paramount goal. DCRA is tackling this goal by showing up for surprise inspections throughout the summer. GM would like to note that multiple GU students were present and forcefully argued for more aggressive action by DCRA. There are always some impressive and engaged GU students around, but GM has been particularly impressed with the recent crop of student leaders that have stepped forward in the last year. Continue reading