If all goes according to plan, by May some of Georgetown’s business sidewalks and mini parks along M Street, Wisconsin Avenue and some of the side streets will be enhanced with outdoor café tables, chairs, umbrellas, benches, planters and, in one case, porch swings in care of Georgetown’s Business Improvement District.
The idea is to make the entire area more inviting for shoppers, strollers, visitors and residents, according to Jamie Scott, the BID’s director of planning and economic development. Georgetown’s BID organization — funded by area businesses through obligatory fees — will buy the furniture, install it, plant the plants and trees and maintain them throughout the year.
“The pieces are moveable,” remarked Georgetown Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Joe Gibbons at the monthly meeting on April 1. “If there are problems, they can be moved or removed.”
Concerns at the meeting were expressed that some stores would use the public tables as an outdoor sidewalk extension of their businesses. “I have not noticed anyone taking advantage of them in this way,” Gibbons said.
The BID will be continually monitoring their usage and maintenance, responded Scott.
“My biggest concern is the dozens of empty storefronts along Wisconsin Avenue,” said ANC chair Rick Murphy. “I am ready to try anything to make the shopping areas more attractive. I personally think outdoor furniture is worth a try.”
“I don’t see any problem with it,” said Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Lisa Palmer. Commissioner Gwendolyn Lohse read the proclamation that the ANC unanimously passed for the BID to take the proposal to the public space committee on April 26.
Plans submitted to the ANC by the BID include the placement of benches and planters at 2929 M Street and 1300 Wisconsin Avenue, and benches at 1629 and 1633 Wisconsin Avenue.
Café tables, chairs, umbrellas and benches are planned for 1050 Thomas Jefferson Street, with additions of planters on 1070 31st Street, 1111 34th Street, 2715 M Street and 1222, 1400, 1643 and 1645 Wisconsin Avenue.
Porch swings will be added to the mix at 1000 Potomac Street.
“The plan is currently being reviewed by the D.C. Department of Transportation,” said Scott. “The total cost of the project is estimated to be around $15,000, depending on the cost of furniture and plants.”