Last week, GM bid 2009 adieu and labeled it a bit of a transitional year for Georgetown. Why transitional? Well, many places went (or stayed) dark last year. 2010 will be the year when a lot of lights get turned back on.
Below are just a few of the closed establishments that will open their doors in 2010:
Safeway – Target Date May 2010
It’s hard to believe that it’s been eight months since Social Safeway closed down. But according to the recently amended schedule, the new and improved Safeway will open its doors May.
Don’t expect the new Safeway to look like the old one, just closer to Wisconsin. No, the new Safeway is part of the chain’s overall rebranding effort to stake out a place closer to Whole Foods in the grocery spectrum. If you want a peek at what it will look like, stop by the City Vista Safeway by the Convention Center sometime.
GM will just be thrilled not to have to hike out to the Palisades anymore.
Apple Store – Target Date May 2010
A year ago this month, the whole city was lamenting the failure of Apple to obtain approval of its designs for a new store on Wisconsin Ave. A year later, the designs are approved and construction well on its way. Or rather, deconstruction well on its way. The old French Connection building is gone. Supposedly the new building will be constructed between now and May.
While Safeway is supposed to open in May as well, GM’s predicting that Apple will make a bigger initial splash.
Georgetown Library – Target Date Fall 2010
As most will remember, Georgetown lost its library to flames April 30, 2007. On the exact same day Eastern Market was also gutted by fire. Georgetowners have watched with a bit of envy and frustration as Eastern Market opened its beautifully refurbished doors last summer. Why is our building still in shambles?
There are at least two reasons our building lagged so far behind Eastern Market’s rebirth. First, the city sued the construction company that was working on the property the day of the fire for leaving a heat gun unattended thus causing the fire. Second, the library took the opportunity for a dramatic redesign. Both of these factors added months and months to the timetable.
As you can see in this photo from November, they are currently (or perhaps finally) working on rebuilding the roof:
Will they meet the Fall deadline? Given the delays the project has encountered up to this point and the vague definition of a “fall” deadline in the first place, GM puts the over-under at November 30th.
Photo by Angela Radelescu.
Ristorante Piccolo – Target Date Now
Like the library, Ristorante Piccolo also was the victim of a catastrophic fire. From almost the day of the fire the owners of the restaurant promised to reopen as soon as possible. Now after a complete refurbishment, they are on the eve of doing just that.
In fact there’s a sign on the restaurant saying that it will reopen “near the end of December” (or something like that). Technically we are still near the end of December, so they’re not late yet. In all likelihood, last minute tie ups will probably push their reopening back a few more weeks.
Another thing to look out for with Ristorante Piccolo is its proposed roof-deck along Blue Alley. They’ve run into a little resistance for this project, but not enough to derail it.
The Question Marks
Several prominent properties are currently vacant or soon to be. Whether they’ll be filled by 2011 is still to early to tell. Here’s GM’s assessment of each:
- The Nathans Property – The listing recently went from a sale listing to a lease listing. While some rumors of a steak-frites place have gone around, there are no signs suggesting any such deal is imminent.
- The Cellar Door Property/Philadelphia Cheesesteak Factory – Another property owned by the Heon family, it has sat empty since last May. It’s not a very flexible space and is a little too far west to command too high a rent. GM has heard zero rumors for this property.
- The Old Georgetown Theater – Yet another Heon family-owned property. GM reported back in August that the property was for sale and that it would be delivered vacant. Does that mean they expect to kick out the Jewelry Exchange this year? Who knows. Given the family’s failure to find a buyer willing to pay its sky-high price for the Nathans building, it seems unlikely they’ll sell the theater property either. But we’ll see.
- Pottery Barn/Smith and Hawken – The entire Smith and Hawken company went belly-up last year. That’s why we lost our great gardening store. Pottery Barn, on the other hand, is generally healthy but it is nonetheless closing its Georgetown store. They simply don’t get enough money selling candles and light-shades to justify the rent. GM has heard a rumor that Brooks Brothers was going to come in and takeover the whole building. We’ll see. It’s owned by East Banc, so we can feel relatively comfortable some sort of quality tenant will be chosen.
- Old 7-11 Building – It’s easy to forget, but the 7-11 property at Q and Wisconsin has be empty since the convenience store shut down over two years ago (has it been even longer?). It’s not the best location in Georgetown, but surely some tenant would be interested at the right price.