Georgetown BID: ‘Where Do We Go From Here?’

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M Street in Georgetown. As of the first week of June, 184 buildings were boarded up. Courtesy Georgetown BID.

The annual meeting of the Georgetown Business Improvement District, held on June 10, proved unique in several ways. It was totally virtual; the Georgetown Community Leadership Award was awarded to the Georgetown business community in general; and high-profile leaders participated, namely Mayor Muriel Bowser, Georgetown University President John DeGioia and Emerson Collective CFO Dan Tangherlini. Also, it was too short.

For the Georgetown BID, it is a time of “Rebuilding, Reopening, Recovering.” After the effects of the shutdown due to the pandemic and the looting during the weekend of Black Lives Matter protests, Georgetown is “in a time of such uncertainty,” according to the BID.

The group said that it went from preparing PPE packages for businesses to the next day seeing 57 Georgetown businesses vandalized — “42 of which were looted.” As as last week, “184 Georgetown buildings were boarded up.”

With the financial report for fiscal 2019 submitted (total expenses: $4,352,822) and new board members acknowledged, the meeting focused on the future of Georgetown.

BID CEO Joe Sternlieb noted that 242 persons were at the virtual meeting, adding that, over its 269-year history, Georgetown has always adapted to assure its continued success.

For DeGioia, the times call for racial justice and a response to the pandemic. For the university, DeGioia said the health of students, faculty and personnel was paramount. He said the institution would open in late August and, working with ReOpen DC, take “a hybrid approach” to opening. “It will be different,” he said. “There will be no big public events.” More specifics are expected by July 1.

Noting that she was in Georgetown the morning of June 1 after the looting, Bowser said she was preparing the way for Phase Two of the District’s reopening, which might happen in the latter part of this month. “Georgetown has a strong social service network,” she said. “We’re all ears on how to partner with you.” While ready to assist with business recoveries, Bowser said there would be no across-the-board reduction on real estate taxes on businesses.

Tangherlini, a former federal and D.C. government official, complimented Bowser on how she dealt with the protests, saying she did a great job of “threading the needle.” He also said the times offered “room for experimentation” (gondola, anyone?) and might show the way for “a better, new future.” An advocate of deemphasizing cars, Tangherlini said Georgetown as a neigborhood was a great example.

The mayor was also asked about the District Council bill on police reform. She readily agreed to the no-chokehold, police-worn cameras and police review board provisions. She did not agree with the proposal to lower the cap on the number of D.C. police.

Soon enough, the meeting hit the four-o’clock mark and ended. The one-hour meeting could have been twice as long.

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