Plans for a combined Capital One bank branch, a multi-story café, a coop working center and at least one community organization board room at the famous Georgetown corner of Wisconsin Avenue and M Street are moving ahead. A “special exception” use application has been filed with the Board of Zoning Adjustment, according to a presentation by the CallisonRTKL architectural firm at the April 29 Georgetown-Burleith Advisory Neighborhood Commission meeting.
The site was the home of Nathans bar and restaurant, a Georgetown landmark for decades that closed in 2009. Renderings of the new interior depict large open sections on three floors joined by a circular center staircase. There are areas for banking services, lounges with extra-wide sofas and chairs, a spacious coffee and pastry bar with high chairs, several coop work spaces with shared tables and two or three “board meeting rooms” that can be reserved by local nonprofits. Free WiFi will be available throughout.
Representatives from the Citizens Association of Georgetown had several criticisms of the exterior refurbishment plans, especially the painting of the whole building in a single unifying color. CAG suggested that painting each section of the building along M Street in a different color, as had been done before, better conformed to the small-shop feel of Georgetown. Similarly, CAG suggested that the wide front doors of reclaimed wood and glass that Capital One planned to install did not reflect the character of the brick fronts of Georgetown.
Among other issues, the subtle night-lighting of the entire building was said to distract from the presence of the historic Georgetown bank building across the street with its gold dome. The brand signage was also criticized as too large and distinct, failing to meld into the marquee.
No date has been confirmed for the opening of the café, although the designers anticipate an early 2019 completion.