A developer submitted a plan for Old Georgetown Board review this month for two lots it owns along the waterfront, and boy are they shabby.
The lots–located at 3224 and 3226 Water St.–currently consist of two rowhouses built in the mid-20th century. They, along with a third next door, are unique properties in all of the District. They are the only single family homes that are truly waterfront. There are some apartment buildings, like Washington Harbour, that are technically on the water, but no other properties have private backyards that end with a shoreline.
And that uniqueness actually poses the greatest challenge for these lots. This land gets flooded. A lot. And it’s only going to get worse with rising oceans and climate change-driven extreme storms. There is no way you would be able today to build townhouses like the ones that occupy the site right now. You’d have to build in some significant flood-mitigation, like an unoccupied ground floor.
However, that’s not what the developer did. It submitted the plan with no such measures. The plan, as it is, calls for the construction of a 8 units apartment building. The rendering, however, makes it appear that the proposed five story building would only be about 8 feet taller than the third remaining townhouse. In reality, it would be about two stories taller.
Which is fine as far as GM is concerned. We need more housing in Georgetown and can’t keep letting obsessions about current viewsheds keep getting used to thwart all construction. (And in this case there would be literally no view being blocked.) But between the failure to address the floodplain and the ridiculously out-of-scale renderings, it seems fair to conclude that this developer is not up to the challenges this site presents.