Construction Fatigue in North Georgetown?

Last month the new Safeway opened up at 1855 Wisconsin Ave. This was a huge construction project for Georgetown, but it was just one of many construction projects either complete or on the drawing board for upper Georgetown. Going all the way back to the major Hardy School renovations, the northern quarter of Georgetown has gone through a significant amount of construction and there is no end in sight. Despite the benefit of a beautifully renovated school and a new palatial supermarket, the neighbors are starting to grumble.

The string of major projects in upper Georgetown starts at least as far back as the Hardy School renovations, beginning in 2005 and only ending in 2008. (You could even perhaps argue that the Georgetown Project of several years prior was the real beginning of the construction streak).

After the Hardy School renovations there was (and still is) the Georgetown Library reconstruction. Then, of course, there was the Safeway project, which brings us up to today.

On the horizon are at least four more significant construction projects: the Jelleff field renovations, the Fillmore School conversion, the Hurt Home,  and the Safeway annex (it’s not really an annex, but for now that’s what GM will call it).

At last week’s ANC meeting, a cohort of northern Georgetown and Burleith residents aired their objections to EastBanc’s plans for the Fillmore School. While their frustrations seem to relate primarily to the project itself (they don’t want it), one of the related complaints they had was that there has been too much development in their part of the neighborhood. Few of the neighbors were still around by the time the ANC discussed the Safeway project, but one would imagine their objections would be similar: too much construction leading to too much density.

GM generally doesn’t like the use of the word “density” as a bogyman in Georgetown. Without density, Georgetown wouldn’t be what it is today (besides, when people complain about “density”, they are often really complaining about parking). But there may be something to the argument that there has been too much construction in upper Georgetown over the past five years.  What do you think? Should there be a moratorium on major projects like the Safeway annex or the Fillmore School in upper Georgetown for a couple years?

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Construction Fatigue in North Georgetown?

  1. Absolutely there should be a moratorium. Not one of the projects is totally necessary, and all do impact on the surrounding neighborhood. And soon, the trolley tracks renovation will bring Georgetown to a standstill for years. But our ANC chairman dismisses any and all complaints from neighbors. He’s such a good citizen.

  2. Ken Archer

    As a resident of North Georgetown, I can say that the only fatigue I’ve had during the last 5 years has been not having a walkable library and grocery store and having a crappy middle school. When I have a library and Hardy becomes a school I’m excited to send my toddler to, I’ll be a happy guy.

    I don’t own a car, and I’m sure residents with cars experience additional fatigue from construction (which is one of many reasons I don’t own a car).

  3. there are wide swaths of this city that would kill to have “too much” investment in their communities.

    seriously, this makes georgetowners look petty and silly. don’t look the gift horse in the mouth, folks.

  4. WJP

    It’s reasonable for people who live in a historic district to believe their neighborhood should look generally similar to the way it has over one hundred years. It’s not Rockville. Preserving G’town should be more than working out the right facade with a developer. Where’s the overall plan?

  5. LF

    If there has to be construction, let them turn the corcoran into another school. The neighborhood needs it.

  6. NH

    As a resident of north georgetown, I can live through renovations (safeway, hardy, library). But when it comes to adding 31 new residences to the parking lot of the Corcoran (this is as many residences as are in Phillips row off Foxhall by comparison), it is a different issue. The Corcoran bought this property from the city for $1M (almost a gift) to use it as a school. That they can turn a huge profit by turning around and selling it to developers, forcing a change in zoning, and fundamentally changing the character of the neighborhood (number of residences on the block will double) is a completely different issue. As neighbors, we expect zoning restrictions to be respected and if there are variances, we expect there to be something back to the neighborhood. In this case the Corcoran makes a huge profit on a property they received for educational use, the developer makes a huge profit on jamming as many condos and townhomes on the property as possible and the neighbors get … more traffic, more construction, obstructed views, loss of a space that’s been open for 100 years. Corcoran and Eastbanc need to come up with a better plan for the neighborhood.

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