The Evolution of Georgetown

Posted by on Thursday, August 15th, 2013 at 5:07pm.

Georgetown is a historic DC neighborhood known for upscale row houses and boutique shopping. But this year, neighborhood planners have envisioned the Georgetown of the future.

Georgetown has seen an influx of 30,000 new residents in the past two years, many of whom are young professionals. Joe Sternlieb, Chief Executive Officer of the Georgetown Business Improvement District (BID), is interested in their needs. “We'll be doing some focus groups with just that demographic in September to respond to some of the ideas that have generated through our Georgetown 2028 project over the last few months because we really want to understand what do they want, what do they need, and how do they plan to get around now and in the future?”

Georgetown never had a Metro station, but Sternlieb says it’s coming. Metro’s 2030 plan “acknowledged the fact that the Blue Line and the Orange Line need to be separated. You need another tunnel to get into the city.” The Georgetown BID wants that new tunnel to bring Metro to Georgetown in the next 15 to 20 years.

Sternlieb is also interested in a gondola (like the one in Portland, Oregon) to connect Rosslyn and Georgetown. He says, “It really is thinking outside the box about how do you move a very large number of people with no friction from existing traffic quickly, inexpensively without producing a lot of pollution.” Expect a gondola feasibility study over the next year. 

The sidewalks in Georgetown are crowded with locals, students, and tourists. On a Saturday afternoon, there are 4,000 pedestrians an hour crossing the intersection of Wisconsin and M Street, but only 800 cars. The BID is trying to accommodate the increased pedestrian traffic by removing the parking lane on weekends to widen the sidewalk.

Georgetown is known for pricey staid dining establishments like J-Paul's, Paolo’s, and Clyde's, along with inexpensive, student-friendly eateries like Chipotle. But new restaurants are coming. Last month, Spike Mendelsohn opened a new restaurant on M Street. Richard Sandoval will open another this month, and the chef at Fiola has plans for one in the fall at Georgetown Harbor. The Georgetown BID is also looking to convert some of the office space south of M Street into restaurants, since space on M Street is so pricey.

Georgetown also has plans to buy a building to lease to an independent bookstore. Sternlieb says, “We will all recognize that we need a large full-service bookstore, coffee shop -- third place, a place that's not home or work where people can gather in the community.” 

Recommendations for the Georgetown 2028 plan will be presented to the community in September, with a final plan expected in November. There may be changes coming to Georgetown.

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