Councilman-at-large Vincent Orange and staffer Elizabeth Webster and members of the Georgetown Business Improvement District, Crystal Sullivan, Nancy Miyahira and John Wiebenson, as well as a member of the press were given a hard-hat tour Aug. 20 of the on-going reconstruction of the Shops at Georgetown Park by Vornado Realty Trust’s Jennifer Nettles, who is manager of the huge 3222 M St., NW, shopping area.
According to Nettles, the Georgetown office of D.C.’s Department of Motor Vehicles — which closed May 19 and was located in the lower level — will not return to the property. The popular locale had been expected to be included in the re-do, as assured by Mayor Vincent Gray and Councilman Jack Evans.
Required to wear hard hats and take no photos of the work, the group walked around what remained of the M Street level of the former Victorian-styled shopping area, now stripped down to its walls. Escalators are gone and so are the fountains on either side of the complex. Demolition is moving along, as plans call for the floors to be extended from front to back. The group looked out at the open space of the atrium which once provided a dramatic look and feel for the shopping center, opened in 1981. The atrium and its green railings will soon disappear.
“This is the de-mallization,” Nettles said, as she guided Orange and others. Where once sat 132 stores, there will now be 15, she said. The largest one of them will take up 45,000 square feet, making it the largest retail space for Georgetown; another will be 31,000 square feet. Some will have multiple levels; all will have an entrance from the street, whether it is from M Street, Wisconsin Avenue or the remaining entrance next to Dean & Deluca. There will be no mall-like corridors for the public. (Georgetown Park’s total retail square feet, according to the Vornado website, is 316,822.)
“I love Georgetown Park, and I’m excited about its rebirth,” said Councilman-at-large Vincent Orange. “However, I will miss and treasure the fond memories of the original mall which was enjoyed immensely with family and friends. In 2013, the joy returns.”
Half of the space has been leased, Nettles said. Names of the lessees were not disclosed. Many observers have speculated or suggested such companies as Bloomingdale’s boutique shop, foodie paradise Eataly or even a Target locate there. Two or three new stores will open in early 2013. As of today, Georgetown Park can only boast a few shops that include H&M or J. Crew. The Washington Sports Club will stay open during the entire construction period.