Nobody hates to see empty storefronts in Georgetown more than GM. They represent the loss of an establishment and the longer they stay empty, the more they depress the appearance of the block.
But are they worse than billboards?
You may have noticed recently that two storefronts on the 3300 block of M St. have been covered in billboards. The one above covers 3338 and 3340 M St. It is a giant advertisement for Mastercard. On the right is a big screen TV that shows a feed from a camera pointed out at the street. Animated shoes react to movement on the sidewalk.
Across the street at 3335 M St. is this:
It’s a billboard for PNC. It also has a big screen TV, but this one allows you to play a boxing-based game to teach you the power of savings.
While an empty storefront is undesirable, these billboards are eyesores. And frankly they cheapen the look of the neighborhood. Moreover, even if you are ok with these particular ads, do you really want every landlord with an empty store to turn their facade over to Madison Ave.? Continue reading
The ANC will meet for it’s June meeting next Tuesday at 6:30 at Visitation. Looking at the agenda, you’d think the entire meeting will be dominated by liquor license renewals. But GM predicts little time will actually be spent on those issues. So what will they be talking about?
EastBanc’s Plans for Fillmore
GM has covered this, but for those just catching up: EastBanc has agreed to purchase the historic Fillmore School building at 1801 35th St. from the Corcoran (the ANC agenda mistakenly calls this the “Corcoran School”, which is a little confusing to history nuts like GM who know that the historic school building at 1219 28th St. was called the Corcoran School.)
EastBanc plans on converting the building into 15 condos and wants to construct rowhouses on the parking lot (GM estimates they want to build 16-20). EastBanc will come to the ANC to present their plans. When they presented similarly ambitious plans for the post office, they received a pretty warm reception from the ANC and the public. GM doesn’t imagine it will be much different this time.
DDOT was asked to send a rep to last month’s ANC meeting to discuss their streetcar plans for Georgetown. Unfortunately nobody came. They are back on the agenda next week, so hopefully someone will come. Continue reading
GM reported on Monday that the Corcoran College of Art + Design had sold the historic Fillmore School building at 1801 35th St. to EastBanc. Few details were available at the time, but since then GM has learned of some more key elements of the proposed plan:
A EastBanc representative confirmed the project to GM and added that the main building will be converted to approximately 15 condo units. This is only one more than the number of condos that were built in the old Phillips School building, which will likely serve as a model for EastBanc’s project (they could theoretically look to the Wormley School conversion as a model, but in that case the developer made the units too expensive and has had a tough time selling them off, so EastBanc should probably treat that project as a warning not a model).
Much like EastBanc’s proposals for the Georgetown post office, they are also contemplating building townhouses where the Fillmore School parking lot is right now. The parking is rather large. By GM’s eyeballing, it looks to be about 4-5 times larger than the parking lot of the post office, where EastBanc has proposed to build four townhouses. So it would reason that EastBanc could proposed somewhere around 16-20 townhouses.
The Phillips School also involved townhouses being built on the parking lot. At that property, the developers added fourteen townhouses to the parking lot, which was slightly smaller than the Fillmore School parking lot. That would seem to support a mid-teens prediction for the Fillmore project. Continue reading
GM started hearing rumors a week ago about the possible sale of the historic Fillmore School building. On Friday, he heard it confirmed from reliable sources that the building was in fact sold.
The building at 1801 35th St. was built in 1892 and named after our last Whig president, Millard Fillmore. It was surplussed by the District in 1998 and bought by the Corcoran Gallery of Art. The Corcoran has since then used the property for classes and gallery space.
Word has spread that the Corcoran has sold the building to EastBanc. GM reached out to both the Corcoran and EastBanc, but neither responded to emailed inquires. Continue reading
It has been rumored for months that Brooks Brothers was going to move into the vacated Smith and Hawken and the soon-to-be-vacant Pottery Barn spaces. The ANC2E agenda for next week confirms it: Brooks Brothers will be moving to 3077 M St.
Specifically, Brooks Brothers is seeking approval of alterations to the storefront, awnings, and signs for that address. Theoretically they could just be moving in to the Smith and Hawken space, which occupies the top floor of 3077 M St. But GM has heard since at least last summer that Pottery Barn plans to vacate the store. Plus, the Smith and Hawken space is too small for a full Brooks Brothers’ store. So his best guess is that Brooks Brothers is taking over the whole building (or at least the Pottery Barn space).
It’ll be sad to see Pottery Barn go. It was a good place to pick up relatively cheap homewares, but as Anthony Lanier (whose EastBanc owns the building) pointed out last September, they can’t pay the rent selling candles.
In the end most people will wonder why there wasn’t a Brooks Brothers already in Georgetown. Well wonder no more.
The other day GM wrote about the billboard at 3345 M St. advertising Landshark Lager beer. It was put up on the windows of a vacant building owned by EastBanc. GM asserted that it probably violates the Old Georgetown Act if not other relevant rules and regulations.
Turns out it’s “other relevant rules and regulations” not the Old Georgetown Act that apply. GM got in contact with the Fine Arts Commission, which oversees the Old Georgetown Board. The approach they are taking is that if a sign does not stay up for 60 days, it is not subject to the Old Georgetown Act. So GM was wrong to assert that this is a clear violation of the Old Georgetown Act.
However, since the sign appears in the Georgetown Historic District, it is subject to the jurisdiction of the Historic Preservation Office in the District Office of Planning. Upon being notified of the sign by the ANC (which happened last week) the enforcement office of the HPO notified EastBanc that even a temporary sign like this requires HPO approval. Since that approval was not sought EastBanc has until next Monday to remove the sign or face a $2,000 penalty. Continue reading
Anachronistic Soldier Outside Old Stone House by M.V. Jantzen.
Good morning Georgetown, here’s the latest: