What a wild night at the Advisory Neighborhood Commission, with neighbors turning out for proposals about developing Georgetown’s post office (above) into apartments and shoring up the foundations on O and P Streets. First, though, University business.
Science Building Construction: About two years ago, the Office of Zoning granted Georgetown the right to build the new science building and an athletic training facility, as well as make alterations to the multi-sports facility. Then the recession happened.
With Georgetown’s construction on all projects stalled for lack of money, Assistant Vice President for External Relations Linda Greenan asked the ANC to approve the University’s application to the Office of Zoning to extend the amount of time it has to do the constructions by two years, until November 23rd, 2011.
The ANC unanimously approved a resolution drafted by Chairman Ron Lewis and student representative Aaron Golds (COL ’11) to support Georgetown’s plan. Still, Greenan said, there are no plans on when to start construction on any of the buildings.
“It awaits money,” she said. She added that Georgetown has applied for federal stimulus money to construct the new science building.
This issue also gave Golds a chance to shine as student commissioner, and he took it. You might think plans put on hold by the economic crisis that had not been changed at all wouldn’t receive much opposition, but you have not met the neighbors. Golds pre-empted public complaints by explaining how terrible Georgetown’s facilities can be, and how desperately they need to be updated.
TEN YEAR PLAN MEETINGS: Greenan also presented a schedule for community meetings about the Ten Year Plan (first one is tomorrow). Greenan briefly described some issues in the Plan, and assured foody neighbors, “Nothing’s going to happen to the ’89, nothing’s going to happen to Wisemiller’s.”
Surprisingly, there was no public outcry, suggesting that residents are saving their sometimes legitimate, sometimes off-the-wall concerns for the meetings themselves.
PHILLY PIZZA DEVELOPMENTS: The formerly hot war between the ANC and beloved-by-drunk-students restaurant Philly Pizza has settled into refrigerated morning pizza levels with the intervention of the District Consumer Regulatory Agency.
“DCRA has taken it upon themselves to investigate,” Commissioner Bill Starrels said. Considering that DCRA has investigated Philly Pizza several times recently, Starrels is proving himself as master of the understatement. According to Starrels, DCRA is playing some hardball with the restaurant, but the matter is now outside of the Citizen’s Association of Georgetown or the ANC’s reach.
NEW APARTMENTS IN POST OFFICE AND HURT HOME: Georgetown will be getting an influx of residents in the next couple of years, if area developers get their wishes. The Argos Group wants to turn the Hurt Home, formerly a home for the blind, into apartments. Although they have not won the rights to develop the property yet, they are the likely developer, according to Chairman Ron Lewis.
More controversial was the possible purchase of the Georgetown Post Office by real estate developers Eastbanc. Lewis said the US Postal Service approached Eastbanc with an offer to sell the historic building, and that Eastbanc accepted. Eastbanc representatives said they plan to turn the building’s disused basement and third floor into apartments, an idea which provoked dismay from some in the audience. The Post Office will continue to operate in its current office space.
Since the plans are not fully developed, though, there will be more opportunities for public comment, Commissioner Tom Birch assured people. The issue also gave Birch an ideal chance to sum up the ANC in his mind: “We work collaboratively, transparently, and slowly.”
On the pro-side of having apartments in the post office, the Eastbancers brought an awesome model of the Georgetown neighborhood that looked like something from a battlefield museum. Who can argue with that?
SAVING O AND P STREETS: Speaking of moving slowly, the ANC and neighborhood members have been hoping for years that weakening O and P Streets (the ones with the trolley tracks) would be shored up for the District Department of Transportation. Tonight, DDOT presented its plans to shore up the streets. According to DDOT officials at the meeting, construction is intended to begin in 2010 and finish by 2012. Lewis looked displeased by this revelation.
DDOT project manager Mohammed Khalid said the department preference is that the trolley tracks remain, but said their fate has not been decided yet.
During the presentation, commissioners became annoyed with DDOT employees rehashing the long history behind the two streets and their declining health. Lewis demanded to know what was going on now, and Birch, the ANC’s master of the one-liner, implored the DDOT men to move along, saying, “We lived the history.”
Student commissioner Golds asked DDOT officials to ensure that the G2 bus would continue to run, because it is the only public transit that goes to the University. When pressed by another questioner, a DDOT presenter said the G2 buses would be rerouted to other Georgetown streets during construction.
PROPERTY CRIME ON THE RISE: Lieutenant John Hedgecock, the MPD lieutenant in charge of Georgetown’s Police Service Area, said that property crime (burglary, theft) has increased by 27% this year from this time last year. In crime overall, though, Hedgecock says Georgetown is about the same this year.
The top targets in property crime are GPS devices and other electronic equipment left visible in cars, according to Hedgecock. He said the loot is then sold on Craigslist, and “Possibly Angie has a list too.” While unlikely that business-recommendation site Angie’s List has a list of good fences for hot goods, it’s fun to imagine.
Hedgecock said Halloween was quieter this year than usual in Georgetown, with only two arrests. In one case, a man tried to steal another man’s video camera in front of police.
Hedgecock, who looks like a blend between Christopher Walken and Michael Chiklis, also said that MPD is not investigating last week’s two hate crimes because the victims will not talk to police.
GEORGETOWN CLEAN-UP: The University and the Citizens Asosciation of Georgetown are hosting a neighborhood clean-up from 9 in the morning to noon on November 14, starting at Volta Park. All the necessary equipment will be provided, GUGS is serving burgers afterwards, and Tombs and Booeymonger’s gift certificates will be raffled off. Go and show the neighbors we aren’t as raffish as they think we are—or at least that we aren’t at 9 a.m.
Photo by bvrdc