Monday night, the ANC met for its September session. This is normally an extremely long meeting due to the backlog of projects that builds up due to the July ANC break (or does it count as a recess?)
The room was packed, which normally means there’s one particular issue that has riled people up. And on Monday, that issue was redistricting.
GM has covered this issue already. In short: students want 3 seats on the ANC, and the non-students in charge want no non-students represented by students (if you want a more nuanced take than that, click the link).
Monday night was not about arguing over numbers or lines. It was a chance, primarily, for students to stand up and say that they don’t think this is right or fair. And several did just that. (And quite well GM might add). Mike Meany, president of the GU Student Association, did a particularly fine job making the case that this plan would be a violation of DC law and is against basic democratic principles.
But a chance to stand up and speak is about all it was. The ANC didn’t take a vote and the committee already chose the co-chairs’ plan. Nothing that happened Monday night will change that. The co-chairs’ plan will be sent to Tom Birch, he’ll approve it, and Jack Evans will submit it to the Council, where it will be approved (despite a Hail Mary from the students to make noise at the Council).
Obviously the non-student neighbors didn’t realize they already won. If they did, then somebody like Ed Russell from Burleith, who stood up and argued that people who pay property taxes should have more rights, wouldn’t have said something so stupid like that.
The other significant item on the agenda was the Washington Harbour. MRP Realty, which recently came into control of the complex, has planned a dramatic face-lift for the property. Te main focus of the redesign is the fountain. They would like to expand it out slightly, while removing all the greenery and boxes in the fountain. Additionally they want to take away most of the ornamentation of the base of the tower. Speaking of ornamentation, they also want to remove various design elements on the buildings themselves.
This is to address the fact that the Arthur Cotton Moore design for these buildings is dated. You know who doesn’t take kindly to that? Arthur Cotton Moore, that’s who! The architect himself stood up after the presentation and emotionally defended his work. He accused MRP of taking a haphazard approach to the ornamentation, which would result in an unbalanced look. He particularly objected to the changes to the base of the tower.
And if that wasn’t enough, Moore decided to just go ahead and expand Goodwin’s Law. He argued that by removing the capitals on the columns, MRP was evoking Albert Speer. Just to make sure there was no confusion, he made sure to clarify the Speer was the Nazi architect.
On top of Moore’s, well, over the top presentation, some residents in the condo complex expressed reservations about the ice rink. Mostly they were afraid of how the ice rink would mix with the boozing atmosphere that dominates that space.
In the end, the ANC passed a resolution neither strongly for nor against the proposal and left it to the experts at OGB to decide architectural matters.
GM’s no architecture expert, and he recognizes that many respect Moore’s work, but frankly GM can’t stand it. Georgetown is bookended by two of his abominations: the Harbour and the home just west of the Key Bridge Exxon. Maybe MRP’s changes will just make it worse, but it’s not like it was particularly good in the first place.
The owners of the fantastic Cafe Bonaparte were back again regarding their long planned Malmaison restaurant. It will go in the old Hibiscus Cafe space shown here:
They should have been done with the ANC a long time ago. Unfortunately, one of the key elements of the voluntary agreement is the use of reimbursable details (i.e., paying cops to work overtime to police one place). The city used to pay half the fee for this for restaurants. Then they cut it. But then they brought it back at 25%.
Either way, apparently the voluntary agreement is closer for Malmaison and they can then open. It should be interesting what they can do with such a remote and interesting space.