Ten Years – The Middle

This week, GM is celebrating his tenth anniversary by going through some of the notable stories he covered over the years. Today he is strolling through the middle years, from 2013 to 2015.

Georgetown 2028

One of the bigger projects from this period was the BID-driven Georgetown 2028 plan. This was a report filled with recommendations for what changes Georgetown could make to best position itself to continue to be a thriving neighborhood in 2028. And while it was led by the BID, the committees guiding it had residents as well as business owners (GM served on the steering committee).

The final report had recommendations covering topics as wide as transportation, street furniture, the canal and the neighborhood’s gateways. But perhaps the most eye-catching parts of the report called for a Metro stop in Georgetown, and, until then, a gondola. Both those ideas are still but dreams, however the push for the gondolas continues.

The report also led to the creation of Georgetown Heritage, the non-profit established to restore the canal. They are responsible for the massive project to rebuild the third lock, which was in danger of completely collapsing. With its completion, the canal boat will be able to return for tourist rides.

Georgetown Campus Plan

Circa 2010, the fight over the renewal of the Georgetown University campus plan seemed intractable. The school and the citizens groups were at loggerheads over questions of head-count and student behavior. It looked like the fight might go to litigation, much like earlier plans had. Frankly, it was a topic GM hated writing about, because he thought both sides were being ridiculous.

But following a victory at the Zoning Commission for the citizens group, the impasse cleared. The parties agreed to a new campus plan. At the heart of the plan was the creation of a series of community committees, covering topics like transportation/parking, off campus student life, and trash. The point of these committees was to address issues as they arose, not every ten years. And they have worked.

They worked so well that when GU came back several years later looking to get a twenty year campus plan approved, it was not contentious at all.

Of course not all sides are 100% happy. Permanent residents still have complaints about drunk students (although not as much as in the past). And students still complain about the forced shift of the GUTS bus routes. But all things considered, it has been a huge success.

Condos, Condos, Condos

The end of the financial crisis meant a return of construction to Georgetown. Although the neighborhood has not seen anything like the development of neighborhoods like 14th St. or the Navy Yards, it has had several significant projects, although several have not got past the drawing board.

Probably the first was the redevelopment of the Hurt Home. The former home for the blind was a city-owned property until it was auctioned off in 2010. Construction didn’t begin, however, until 2012. The final project, re-dubbed the “Montrose”, features 15 units. Other than three units that were set aside as affordable, the rest were all sold for seven figures.

Another major development was 1055 High. This Eastbanc project, built in the former Verizon parking lot next to Grace Episcopal, was for even more expensive buyers. The building’s seven units were more in the $3 million range.

Approved at roughly the same time, but not yet built, was the Exxon condo building. Eastbanc was also behind this project, but had since sold it. Another developer plans to go ahead with the approved project, although both the gondola backers and the Prospect St. residents are hoping to stop it.

Another project put forward during this period but also delayed is the West Heating Plant condos. The Levy Group won the property at auction in 2013. But in the five years since they have struggled to get a final plan approved. But the payoff is going to be so big that they can afford to fight.

And yet another project to be delayed is the proposal to build apartments on the Doggett Parking Lot. This project has been held up as a prime tenant is sought for the first floor retail.

And last but not least is the proposed building at M and Pennsylvania. This  will actually be a rental apartment, not condos.

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