Eastbanc’s Lanier Offers Optimistic View for Georgetown

When Eastbanc President Anthony Lanier talks about the state of Georgetown retail and real estate, it always worth a listen. And on Tuesday night, Lanier spoke of both during the July ANC meeting. The soapbox was offered to him as part of the ANC’s monthly effort to hear from commercial tenants and landlords about how they view the outlook for Georgetown’s retail corridors.

And despite the doom and gloom that many are observing and/or predicting for the neighborhood, Lanier is mostly sun and opportunity. He started off the talk with an overarching theme that wove through his whole brief discussion: “rather than looking at all the vacancies as a black mark on Georgetown, we should look at it as an opportunity to escape sameness.” To escape the homogeneity that our commercial corridors have largely succumbed to (i.e. it’s just an outdoor mall) Lanier hails “new and innovative retailers, so few of which exist” that Georgetown should try to attract with all the empty space.

Lanier then gave some examples of how Eastbanc was trying to put that advice into practice. He cited Showfields, which is moving into the former Brooks Brothers. It is essentially a small department store, where new and small retailers are giving a small space in the building with short leases in order to test the DC market. He also mentioned Glossier, a cosmetics store that is moving into the old Sephora at 3065 M St.

Most excitedly, Lanier announced that the refurbishment of the Zara building at the corner of Prospect and Wisconsin will be done by the end of the year and five new tenants will move in, where two were before. (Lanier didn’t mention who the new tenants were, but signage on the building already is promising Wolford, an Austrian clothing store.)

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The Morning Metropolitan

Reflection: Georgetown al Fresco
Photo by Jeff Vincent.

Good morning Georgetown, here’s the latest:

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The Georgetown Metropolis

C & O Canal

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Improvements to Western End of Water Street Take Shape

The western end of Water Street will soon have a completely different feel, as the project to renovate it takes shape. The work, captured by BID transportation director Greg Billing, began recently and should be wrapped up within weeks.

As Billing describes, the project is accomplishing several goals. The first and most pressing was the restoration of the steps going from Water Street up to the canal towpath. For years they have been in such bad shape that they resembled something from a Roman ruin. If they weren’t repaired they were on the way to becoming more of a ramp than a set of stairs.

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The Morning Metropolitan

Streaming by
Photo by Jeff Vincent.

Good morning Georgetown, here’s the latest:

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ANC Preview: Not Actually a Tavern Subdivison

The ANC meets for its July session tonight via Zoom at 6:30.

One item of note is the application by the recent purchaser of the historic “tavern” building on 33rd St. (scare quote used because despite the plaque, the building was not likely ever used as a tavern). They would like to subdivide the property to allow the construction of two new houses on Volta.

This sounds like an odd request, since the home is on 33rd St., several houses away from Volta, but the lot is huge and wraps all the way around to Volta. The plan would be to replace a two car driveway with the new homes:

There’s a really housing shortage in DC, and any more building will help. You might think that homes like this, which will likely sell for 7 figures, won’t help housing affordability, but it does. One more seven figure home in Georgetown, means one sub-seven figure home in other parts of the city doesn’t get bid up, and so on.

GM understands that the design concept for the two new homes was initially rejected by the OGB, but primary on aesthetic grounds. Hopefully a better design will be approved and eventually there will be two more homes, and two new families, in the neighborhood.

Here is the rest of the agenda:

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The Morning Metropolitan

Standing Out in a Crowd
Photo by Jeff Vincent.

Good morning Georgetown, here’s the latest:

  • Terrible news: Sara’s Market closed. (Although, frankly it is still unclear if it really is permanently closed, since the building is still owned by the family that ran the market until 2011).
  • GM once tried to rent an apartment in this house and the agent told him not to because it was otherwise filled with loud students. Now it’s selling for over $2 mil.

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The Morning Metropolitan

Yellowstone
Photo by Pedro Szekely.

Good morning Georgetown, here’s the latest:

  • GM was informed that the report that Nike is moving into the Aerie building may be a bit premature.
  • Monkeypox comes to Georgetown.
  • GM is knocking off a bit early in preparation for a trip next week to visit Yellowstone. See you after the Fourth!

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The Georgetown Metropolis

3200 block of O St.

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Nike to Move Across the Neighborhood

DC Urban Turf reported yesterday that the Nike Store is indeed looking to leave its large space at Thomas Jefferson and M. This was reported earlier this year by WBJ. But the new article reports that Nike isn’t leaving the neighborhood entirely. It is moving to 3235 M St. (which currently hosts Aerie, and had hosted All Saints for many years). This would, in either event, leave a large vacancy at the current building. In case you missed it, below is an article GM wrote back in March when the possibility of Nike leaving first emerged:

Last month, WBJ reported that the Nike Store may be on the way out. And GM is hearing rumors that the Amazon Books store next door is also on the way out. These closures, if they come to pass, would add to several other large spaces that have also recently become vacant.

Nike took over the space at 30th and M in 2012. Previously the space was used for many years by Barnes and Nobles (offering one of the more popular third places in the neighborhood). Prior to the Barnes and Nobles, the building hosted the Cerberus 1-2-3 movie theater since 1970. Its unusual size and large windows owe to the fact it was originally built as a car dealership.

From the moment Nike moved in it felt like perhaps they bit off more than they could chew. The three vast floors felt empty, particularly to patrons who once roamed the Barnes and Noble’s bookshelves. And the fact that it appears that Nike is bowing out with years left on the lease would suggest they agree with that assessment.

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