November 11, 2011 · 10:00 am
Wednesday night the Georgetown Business Association held a forum on economic development in Georgetown. It’s a topic that is much on the minds of business owners and residents alike.
The panel included representatives from across the Georgetown business spectrum and also Councilmembers Jack Evans and Vincent Orange. When asked what the city can do for Georgetown, Evans highlighted three things: keeping crime low, transportation, and taxes. Typically when Evans talks about taxes, he talks about keeping income taxes low in order to attract and keep high income residents, but on this occasion he focused on the effect of higher taxes on small businesses. He stated that 25-30% of the new top income tax rate for DC will hit small businesses (for what it’s worth GM’s never heard that stat before, and it doesn’t sound quite right to him).
Vincent Orange emphasized a DC law that requires DC agencies to spend 50% of their procurement budget on small businesses. He stated that right now 31 agencies are out of compliance. Orange also highlighted the DC Streetscape Relief Fund, which offers interest free loans to businesses affected by disruptive street construction, like that seen on H St. NE. Good initiatives both of them, but they’re not really going to help out Georgetown small retail shops much (although Karen Ohri of Georgetown Flooring pointed out that a lot of their business is for institutional clients, so stores like hers could benefit from the procurement law). Continue reading →
July 15, 2011 · 10:00 am
Photo by M.V. Jantzen.
The other night, a panel hosted by the Georgetown Business Association addressed the question of the moribund state of Georgetown’s nightlife. GM wasn’t there, but the City Paper’s Lydia DePillis had it covered.
The forum’s speakers lamented the fact that no new and hip restaurants have moved into Georgetown in a while. Acording to DePillis, their explanations fall into three categories:
Theory number one: Georgetowners themselves wouldn’t be terribly excited about new offerings. Linda Greenan, vice president of communications for Georgetown University, noticed that the newly vibrant corridors of 14th Street and Penn Quarter are filled with people from the neighborhood, while Georgetown’s restaurants are more often filled with tourists…
Theory number two: Georgetown makes it too hard to open a business, with all its layers of review and resistance…
Theory number three: It’s the landlords’ fault!
[but most of all] Georgetown just seems too far away, too crusty, and too expensive for the younger set that’s flocking everywhere else.
GM thinks these are all pretty spot on. You could also throw in to the mix the liquor license moratorium. By some estimates, it costs $70,000 to buy a Georgetown liquor license on the open market. That’s a pretty steep disincentive. But GM doubts that’s really the crucial element. When ABRA released seven new licenses, none ended up in the hands of any “hip and new” restaurant. (Hell, half of them ended up with restaurants that weren’t even new).
When did it go wrong? The last restaurant to open in Georgetown with any sort of buzz was Hook, and that was almost four years ago. Before that, Mei N Yu is about the only other buzzy restaurant that opened in the last ten years. (You could possibly throw in L2 and George, but they both have restrictive guest lists and neither has much name recognition beyond those actually on said lists). Continue reading →