In just over two year’s time, several pockets of Georgetown will have made significant changes from today. That was the theme of last night’s ANC meeting. The Future. Which is an odd theme for a historic district, but there you go.
The heart of last night’s meeting revolved around three projects that will probably seem to take an eternity to finish, but once done will hopefully be great additions to the neighborhood. These are the trolley tracks on O and P, and the conversion of two historic buildings into residential units: the Hurt Home and the Georgetown Post Office.
Clang, Clang, Clang Goes the Endless Construction
West Villagers know all about the terrible shape of O and P St. where the streetcar tracks are. Over the years the cobblestones have settled lower and lower below the tracks. This has created a dangerous situation where the tracks are 3-5 inches above the cobblestones. While you’re a afforded a smooth ride so long as you’re on the rails, as soon as your car tires slip off the rails it can be very difficult to control.
Last night DDOT presented their plans to finally fix the problem. There’s a strong emphasis on the word ‘finally’ since the city has been deliberating how to fix these two short roads on-and-off for 30 years.
Several plans have been floated throughout the years. For instance,the most recent working plan was to remove the tracks from one of the streets and leave them on the other.
The final plan, however, involves the complete rehabilitation of both set of tracks and cobblestone streets. The track foundations will remain in place while the tracks are rehabbed. The cobblestones will be taken up and put back down on a firmer foundation. The sidewalks will be similarly rehabbed. Once the construction is finished, the tracks will be flush with the cobblestones.
Construction is set to begin next summer and last at least a year (probably more). DDOT plans to work on one block at a time. The overall project will cost $11.7 million.
Hurt Home For the Blind High-End Condos
As covered here, the District is planning on selling the Hurt Home at 3050 R St. Apparently a joint venture between the entities Argo and NV Commercial is the leading bidder.
Representatives from both companies presented rough plans for the Hurt Home to the ANC last night. They want to convert the building into about 46 “high end” condos. Some percentage of the units, however, must be more affordable under the District’s surplus guidelines. The presenters also mentioned that they are trying to incorporate more family housing with two to three bedroom units.
Their plans call for about a doubling of the building’s footprint. Where a parking lot now stands, the developers would like to construct a new wing. An atrium would link the historic front building with the new building.
GM asked the developers whether they had done any project like this before. After mentioning some in-progress projects, the presenters stated that they had not in fact completed a project. As a neighbor of the Hurt Home, that makes GM a bit nervous. Nonetheless, he supports the plan’s basics.
Wait a Minute Mr. Postman
Word broke over the summer that the U.S. Postal Service approached East Banc to develop the historic Georgetown Post Office into condos. For obvious reasons Georgetowners were concerned about the possible loss of their post office. The early word, though, was that the actual post office will be maintained. Probably in part to calm these fears, Anthony Lanier and a colleague presented East Banc’s initial proposal to the ANC last night.
The plan calls for the removal of the non-historic addition to the back of the building. In the space remaining, four townhomes would be constructed. In the building itself, while some minor but undetailed changes would be made to the post office, the current first floor layout will stay mostly the same. Residential units would be added to the second floor and the basement.
In a related project, East Banc would like to build an additional 8 townhomes on the existing surface parking lot between the post office and the Old Stone House garden. This property is not owned by the USPS and thus is not technically part of the USPS’ proposal. Nonetheless, East Banc would like to treat it as part of the overall project, even if it is viewed as a sort of “Phase II.”
The overall plan (including the Phase II) would created 12 townhomes and 15-20 total units. Unlike the Hurt Home candidates, East Banc is a known and generally admired quantity in Georgetown. In GM’s opinion, if there’s any developer that can pull this off, both politically and aesthetically, it’s East Banc.
Rounding Up the Round Up
Not all issues discussed last night are years away from fruition:
- The traffic lights at 30th and P and 28th and P are going to be removed and converted to four-way stop signs. They’ve been blinking red lights for the last couple weeks as a test.
- 33rd and 34th streets will add bike lanes from M to Wisconsin. Daily bike commuter Tom Birch was particularly happy about this news.
- Champions Sports Bar will undergo yet another face-lift. The current plans call for it to be renamed ‘Casablanca’ with a design that looks like something out of Las Vegas. GM suspects the Old Georgetown Board will have something to say about the 30 foot metallic columns.
- And to end on some happy news: Commissioner Ron Lewis and his wife Anne just became grandparents for the first time. Congrats to Ron and Anne!