2009 was the first full year of the Georgetown Metropolitan’s existence (except, of course, for it’s earlier existence as a genuine newspaper). While there were certainly some nights when GM has to stretch for content, overall Georgetown provided plenty of stories this year to fill these pages. So before we ring in 2010, GM wants to take one more look back at the year that was in Georgetown.
A Bad Apple Turned Good
2009 started off with a bang in Georgetown as Apple had four different designs rejected for its proposed store at 1220 Wisconsin Ave. While the decisions to reject the designs weren’t being made by “Georgetown,” there were howls of complaints from commentators who should know better lamenting about the monied-elite squashing their dreams of a District-based Apple Store.
The fact is that Apple simply made several bad decisions, perhaps out of pique, before they finally realized what they were up against. The first design was rejected based on the mild complaint that the wall of glass along the sidewalk was too monotonous:
Rather than actually address those concerns they went off the deep end and proposed these two successive designs, which may have their own merit but which are completely inappropriate for Georgetown:
Two designs later, Apple finally got a design approved by simply going back to the first design and making the glass wall slightly less monotonous. You know, like the Old Georgetown Board was asking for from the beginning.
Last Call at Nathans
While there were more than a couple stores and restaurants that closed up shop this year in Georgetown, perhaps none was so prominent as Nathans. Just months after celebrating the tavern’s 40th anniversary, Carol Joynt decided to pull the plug on an unsustainable situation. While she signed a lease extension the likelihood of default loomed so large that she decided to exercise an escape clause and close the restaurant.
It truly broke GM’s heart to visit Nathans during its last hours. The place was packed, the seats filled, and the drinks flowing. It was truly inconceivable that the place would be empty the next Monday.
But it was. And it’s remained so. After failing to find a buyer willing to pay their pie-in-the-sky price, the Heon family has decided to go back to renting out the space again. Will it be another restaurant or will they gut the place and put in something useless like a T-Mobile store? We’ll see…
The Huge Party That Never Was
Speaking of bars, GM would be remiss if he didn’t reminisce on the giant inaugural party that never was. As you may recall, the Council, perhaps a tad too haphazardly, passed a bill in anticipation of the inauguration allowing bars to stay open pretty much all night. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your home’s proximity to M St.) the enthusiasm wave crashed on the party-pooping rocks here in Georgetown. Due to language in most bars’ voluntary agreements, consent was needed from the ANC and CAG to actually stay open past their normal hours. Consent was not granted. And the late night partying happened somewhere else.
The best part of the whole episode: finding out that the Modern is prohibited from holding beefcake contests.
Around the same time that Nathan’s faced closure, another neighborhood landmark, Scheele’s Market, also faced an uncertain future. The Scheele family, who still own the building, put the property up for sale. Georgetown is blessed with several small neighborhood markets like Scheele’s, but they are an endangered species. When one closes, that’s pretty much it; they’ve been zoned out of existence.
So when the possibility arose that someone might buy the Scheele’s Market property and convert it into a private residence the neighbors sprung to action. That spring was particularly, well, springy because the potential buyer in question was Marc Teren, who does not have a particularly stellar reputation in Georgetown.
Led by Mike Peabody, the community group negotiated with Teren and the Scheele’s to sign a 25 year lease. The group would then sublet the market to an operator. Who that will be is not clear yet. The Lee family has been running the market for 30 years, but no announcement has been made clarifying their role in the market going forward.
Circulator Saved Too
In a display of community organization and mass transit love, Georgetown convinced DDOT to keep the Circulator route as it is. (Well, more accurately, they convinced Jack Evans to convince the Mayor that he could find money in the budget to pay for the extension, but that sounds way less dramatic right?) The effort came from the Citizens Association of Georgetown, the BID, the ANC, and to a small extent this very publication.
As an avowed transit-nerd, GM was particularly happy to see such an across the board effort to save the popular bus route. We will eventually have to have some serious discussions about how we allocate street space between cars, buses (and eventually streetcars), and parking. GM thinks that the outpouring of support for the busline demonstrates what priority they should have when that discussion finally takes place.
The Dearly Departed
As stated above, Nathans was not the only establishment to close its doors in Georgetown this year. There were many, including:
- Curry Club (now Arisu Korean restaurant)
- H.A. Gill Realtors (they may have just moved, but they aren’t at Wisconsin and R anymore).
- The Frame Shop
- The Linen Press (now Georgetown Birdcage)
- Aqua Salon (now Violet Hair and Skin Care)
- Stitch DC
- Sprint (now Snaldero Kitchens)
- Philadelphia Cheesesteak Factory
- Lumas Gallery
- Chez Mama San (Now J. Chocolatier)
- Chico’s (converted into a White House-Black Market)
- Smith & Hawken
- Ritz Camera
- Ann Hand (now Bobbie Medlin)
10, 9, 8, 7…
2009 was a tumultuous and transitional year here in Georgetown. But it may foreshadow a much brighter 2010. As GM will detail next week, we’ve got a lot of exciting things to look forward to next year. So drink your cup of kindness yet, but remember that the Georgetown Metropolitan will be right back to work on Monday bringing you all that you need to know about your neighborhood.
Have a happy New Year Georgetown…