Tuesday night, GM moderated a discussion for the Citizens Association of Georgetown on the topic of the retail district of Georgetown, and in particular Wisconsin Ave. A lot of time was spent talking about what people would like to disappear in Georgetown, but only a little time was spent on what people would like to see come in.
There is a school of thought that says you should just accept what is as what is, and not try to change things (frequent commentor RNM is a big fan of this approach). And to a large extent, this is true. But it is not entirely and always true. As described Monday night, residents of the Logan Circle area lobbied Fresh Fields heavily to move into the location at 14th and P (Fresh Fields was eventually bought out by Whole Foods). Fresh Fields didn’t think that location would work, but was convinced after the residents’ campaign. Now it’s one of the most profitable locations in the chain.
It ultimately made market sense to open there, but if residents left it simply to the invisible hand, it wouldn’t have opened.
So back to Georgetown. What would you like to come to Georgetown? A hardware store like Glover Park’s? An permanent farmers market? A performance theater? You name it. It doesn’t have to be practical for now, just name something you wish you didn’t have to leave the neighborhood for.
GM will start: He’d like to see a kitchen supply store in the neighborhood (i.e. Williams Sonoma, Sur La Table, whatever).
Once there is an idea of what neighbors want, steps can be taken by groups to facilitate that coming to fruition. It still would have to make sound business sense, but there’s a lot of gray between a complete laissez faire approach on one side, and a command economy on the other.