First Whacks at Wawa — and More ANC Highlights

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Meeting Thursday, June 29, before its summer break, the Georgetown-Burleith Advisory Neighborhood Commission tackled some hot-button town topics: DC Streetcar, the District Department of Transportation’s plans for protected bicycle lanes on K Street, the new Starbucks at 34th and M Streets and the proposed Wawa cafe at Wisconsin Avenue and Prospect Street (as well as various planned additions to residents’ homes).

On hand was Council member Jack Evans, who spoke about D.C.’s 2018 budget, which includes $200,000 each for Mount Zion Cemetery, for the fountain at Georgetown Waterfront Park and for a Georgetown Main Streets program. Evans said it looked good for the Jackson Art Center to extend its lease with the city for 20 years, also allowing for possible money for repairs to the historic R Street building.

The agenda made for a busy and eclectic meeting. Here are the highlights.

First up was the police report. Lt. Gary Durand of the Metropolitan Police Department’s Second District said crimes are down except in the category of shoplifting and theft from autos. Mentioned was the ongoing investigation of an assault at Malmaison cafe at 3401 Water Street. “We have a witness and are looking to get the suspect,” Durand said. Re all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), he said there is a an ATV plan in place, adding that bikers try “to bait cops to go after them.” MPD observes but tries to ignore the drivers, not wishing to get into a pursuit.

There was a community commendation for former Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners Ron Lewis, Tom Birch, Bill Starrels, Reed Howard and Jeff Jones, as well as for former ANC Executive Director Leslie Maysak.

Commissioner Lisa Palmer expressed concern about the number of running events and races that isolate residents south of M Street and obstruct access to homes. She was unhappy about the noise at the Lawyers Have Heart 5K and 10K last week.

DDOT’s plan for a streetcar from Union Station to Georgetown is still in the planning mix. Patrick Kennedy, chair of the Foggy Bottom and West End ANC, expressed his support: “It’s an issue of traffic congestion and mobility.”

Concerning the Access to Justice for Immigrants Amendment Act of 2017, the commission took no formal stand but asked that students be included in any assistance by the District government.

DDOT’s Bicycle Program Specialist Darren Buck announced the agency’s notice of intent to install protected bike lanes on K and Water Streets as well as on part of Wisconsin Avenue. Available parking for cars was a concern of merchants and others, who were told the total number of parking spaces in the program’s area is 142 and would be reduced by 48. Wisconsin Avenue lanes would only go up to the C&O Canal and not affect any parking spaces. The K Street-Water Street lanes would run between 34th Street and Thomas Jefferson Street. Waiting for Pepco’s work to be completed, the job would be done toward the end of 2017, Buck said. Commissioner Palmer said, “It’s the Wild West down there. We need a comprehensive solution.” Worried about drivers pushed to seek parking in the more residential streets, commissioner Monica Roache declared, “People will still be driving to Georgetown.”

There is a proposal to eliminate Wisconsin Avenue service north of M Street to Whitehaven on the Georgetown-Union Station route of DDOT’s Circulator bus system. The commission asked about ridership numbers and expressed its disapproval of the plans.

The Starbucks planned for the former Capriotti’s sandwich shop location at 3347 M Street won approval for store designs with seating for 45. While the commission was concerned about some of the signage, it liked the nod to the most famous iteration of the building: the Cellar Door. Occupying only the first floor, the coffee shop will display photos of the many acts that performed at the venue.

After several Old Georgetown Board-bound projects, the big one of the night was the proposed Wawa “urban concept” at 1222 Wisconsin Avenue, currently occupied by Restoration Hardware. On hand were Wawa’s Susan Bratton, architect David Levy and landlords Bryce and Mike Weaver. The project is overwhelmingly seen in a negative light by many in and around Georgetown, but there were few on hand to speak up and this was only a talk about signage concepts.

The flying goose logo and awnings were a no-go for the commission, while Bratton and Levy said there would be no real alterations to the 1927 concrete building, once home to the Key Theater (run by another David Levy), with a Roy Rogers fast-food eatery at the corner spot. In an intended understatement, commissioner Jim Wilcox said, “Residents are concerned.” Questions were raised about the lighting coming from inside the building — which will be open 24 hours — and about delivery trucks on Prospect Street. Bratton said Wawa counted the foot traffic at the corner of Wisconsin and Prospect at a clip of 60,000 to 65,000 per week. More to come on this one.

The next ANC meeting will be Tuesday, Sept. 5.

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