New Life for Parking Lot at Prospect Place

One of the last pieces of underdeveloped prime real estate in Georgetown is about to go under construction. Prospect Place, the parking lot on Prospect Street across from Cafe Milano, will be the site of a new community of retail outlets and restaurants.

Chicago-based McCaffery Interests, Inc., will redevelop the 82-space parking lot, constructing two stories of storefront retail atop a 101-space underground parking garage. Development is well into the entitlement process, and the owners hope to have approval from the ANC by early-to-mid 2015. The goal is to break ground toward the end of that year. The construction is projected to take just over a year, with an estimated completion date of late fall 2016, assuming no delays in approval.

“It’s a killer piece of frontage,” says Juan Cameron, Senior Managing Director of Development and Acquisition Opportunities at McCaffery. “Prospect Street has a great flow of pedestrians—it gets more foot traffic than any place in the neighborhood besides M and Wisconsin.”

McCaffrey is interested in what Cameron calls the “pedestrian experience,” making streets comfortable for walkers, retailers and restaurants. M Street’s thin sidewalks, for instance, are prone to crammed, highly concentrated traffic jams on street corners and outside of major retailers. Wider sidewalks, which are a key feature to the proposed designs for Prospect Place, allow more rhythm on the street. “We want room for diners to sit outside at a storefront cafe and space for foot traffic to comfortably walk by.”

Although it is still too early to know what shops or restaurants to expect, McCaffrey anticipates that there will be local retail players that Georgetown has not seen before.

“This is a very important piece of real estate and we all want to see it done right,” says Bill Starrels, ANC commissioner for Ward 2.

One objection raised by Starrels and the ANC board was the initially proposed plan to have merchandise delivery and trash pickup out front on the sidewalk. “Anybody who has to drive on Prospect in the morning knows it’s a pain because of restaurant deliveries. We have to learn what didn’t work in years before. When we’re talking about an additional 28,000 square feet of retail, we need proper designs for loading and unloading.”

Starrels believes there can be great benefits in the new construction for local residents as well as visitors. “It really depends on what goes into these new storefronts. Retailers in Georgetown need to remember that there are about 14,000 residents—add Burleith and that’s 2,000 more, plus all the college students. There are a lot of retail options that could benefit the neighborhood community.”

For his part, Starrels would like to see if the developers could attract a Trader Joe’s or a small Whole Foods.

The owners should be sensitive to this fact, as they are one of Georgetown’s oldest families. The Weaver family, who settled in Georgetown in 1811and have run WT Weaver & Sons, an architectural hardware and decorative plumbing store at 1208 Wisconsin Ave., has owned the parking lot for over a century and will retain ownership of the redeveloped property.


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