Tag Archives: Washington Post

WaPo Editorial Page Wades into 10 Year Plan Fight

Photo by Dionhinchliffe.

On Sunday, the Washington Post published an editorial on the Georgetown University campus plan. It was highly critical of the DC Office of Planning and the effort by community groups to insist that the final plan call for the housing of all undergraduate students on campus.

They write:

Imagine a city telling its largest private employer — one that pays millions in taxes and salaries, strives to hire local residents and voluntarily does community service — that it can’t grow anymore, that it might have to cut back. That seems far-fetched in light of today’s scary economy, but it’s essentially what D.C. officials are telling Georgetown University by insisting it either house all its students or cut back enrollment. The District seems distressingly disinterested in promoting a knowledge-based economy.

The editorial attempts to contrast the Office of Planning’s position against the city’s overall goal of adding residents. It argues that:

What’s most troubling about the city’s posture is the notion that an increase in young people, particularly those in search of an education, is somehow undesirable. What happened to the idea that these are the very kind of people that should be lured to make the District their home?

It’s an interesting argument. And it’s definitely the case that the presence of universities greatly contributes towards making a city a haven for the so-called Creative Class. But to suggest that the city is “disinterested in promoting a knowledge-based economy” simply because it maintains enrollment caps on universities is a bit hysterical. Besides, the vast majority of jobs in this city are either in the government or government-related, which will be here whether GU enrolls 14,000 or 15,000. Also, the editorial seems to have been written by someone without a strong familiarity with the situation; before it was corrected, the editorial talked about the neighborhood of “Fox Hollow”.

But that is really beside the point. What GM finds most interesting about this editorial is that it is clearly the product of a concerted lobbying campaign by GU. The thrust of the article is directed at the Office of Planning report, but that was issued in May. The only reason the Post is writing about this now is that the final Zoning Commission hearings are coming up. Continue reading

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Filed under Town and Gown

Washington Post Writes Yet Another “Is Georgetown Dead?” Article

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Every six months of so, it seems some news outlet rolls out another “is Georgetown is dead?” story. This week it was the Washington Post’s turn.

Inspired by the genuinely sad story of the closing of Furin’s, the Post ponders:

Is Furin’s merely an example of the normal business cycle of Georgetown, or a sign of larger problems to come? Do mom-and-pop shops have a place in the neighborhood or are national chains destined to take it over?

In fairness to the Post, they do present a slightly more nuanced picture of the neighborhood than many “Georgetown is doomed to mall stores” articles. They quote John Hays, owner of Phoenix, who argues that changes come and go. In the end, the Post concludes that there has in fact been a reduction in independent shops, and that that is a result of high rents:

Nancy Itteilag, the real estate agent who sold Furin’s, said rents on M and Wisconsin can range from $30 to $70 per square foot, a cost that she and Hamilton think puts pressure on existing independent businesses and can be intimidating and prohibitive for small-business owners looking to set up shop. (Being a chain doesn’t guarantee success, either; American Eagle Outfitters and Reiss are two recent casualties.)

What the Post doesn’t mention is that the vast majority of business in Georgetown are still independently owned. Yes, there’s less independent retail than there was 20 years ago. And the retail, whether independent or chain, is less resident-oriented. But that’s a trend common to many commercial districts. You can blame the Internet for that, among other uncontrollable forces. Continue reading

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Filed under Retail

The Morning Metropolitan

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Good morning Georgetown, here’s the latest:

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Filed under The Morning Metropolitan