Eastbanc Ends up Occupying Post Office Building Itself

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The saga of the US Postal Office’s sale of the historic Georgetown post office and the approval of the development plans was long and varied. Once huge, then small, and then smaller the plans kept getting nibbled away. And now all that’s left is a little space that Eastbanc is going to end up taking itself.

When it was first announced back in 2009 that the Georgetown-based Eastbanc was going to buy the property and redevelop it, the initial plans called for a new structure off the back containing 13 – 17 condos. Moreover, at an ANC meeting, Eastbanc owner, Anthony Lanier, announced that they ultimately planned to buy the parking lot to the east and build a set of rowhouses to compliment the post office development.

Those plans were then cut back. Talk of buying the parking lot disappeared. The addition off the back got smaller and instead of condos, the plans then contemplated office space.

Then those plans got scaled back again, and the project shifted back to residential.

And then the OGB determined that the boxy building off the back of the main structure (which was always planned for demolition) was itself historic and needed to be incorporated into the plans. So basically only minimal changes to the building’s exterior were allowed. Oh, and they shifted it back again to office space.

What was once a grand plan for over a dozen condos and a new block of rowhouses suffered death by a thousand cuts. And now a billboard on the side of the building indicates that the primary tenant of the renovated space will be Eastbanc itself. More specifically, Eastbanc Technologies, an affiliated tech company also owned by Lanier. While an optimist might call this turning a pile of bureaucratic lemons into synergistic lemonade, a cycnic might see this as preservation needlessly getting in the way of necessary development.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Eastbanc Ends up Occupying Post Office Building Itself

  1. Meanwhile, lashings of Pepto Bismol pink are fine on the facade of Serendipity, while an unimportant, back alley building no one could see or possibly care about is “preserved”. Terrific.

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  5. Not quite accurate. Although OGB/CFA reviewed all addition proposals, they did not have a major influence on the final design. In disposing of the property and acquitting its Section 106 responsibilities, the Postal Service chose to place a covenant on the property that future owners would simply have to meet the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation. Alternatively, the USPS could have effectively partnered with a potential purchaser to shepherd through a public consultation a project that would have some adverse effects that simply would have been mitigated to a degree. But they chose the simpler path. That predetermined the outcome: not demolishing the early twentieth-century addition and the construction a very low-impact new addition. But it is almost certainly for the best, as this building is one of the real gems of Georgetown, a high-style, mid-nineteenth-century, dressed-stone building of New England origins. It ought to stand free of the sort of additions that were initially proposed, three stories tall and filling the entire rear yard, extending beyond both ends of the historic block and forming a solid backdrop to it.

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