ANC: Former Latham Hotel Site Is ‘Blighted Property’


Warned and ready, Georgetown was spared a repeat of June’s street violence last night, Jan. 6, following out-of-town protesters’ assault on the U.S. Capitol. Today, as after the June incidents, new fences and shielding are going up on the Hill, blighting the look of our majestic Capitol Building.

But one blight that has endured almost as long as President Donald Trump’s term in office remains in Georgetown, and the Georgetown-Burleith advisory neighborhood commission finally decided to take action this week.

That blight is the large crane on a vacated construction site on the corner of M and 30th Streets NW, where until five years ago the La Madeleine restaurant and the Latham Hotel, with its acclaimed Citronelle restaurant, were located.

After the property was sold to Thor Equities, it went through a number of plans, even as most of the structures were demolished. For the past two years, all that has stood on the property is the frame of the former hotel and the tower crane.

ANC 2E’s resolution, classifying 3000 M St. NW as a “blighted property,” passed at the Jan. 4 meeting. Once it is transcribed and approved, the resolution will be sent to the District’s Department of Regulatory Affairs.

“The property is currently categorized as ‘vacant’ by the DCRA,” Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Lisa Palmer told The Georgetowner. “The only other status is ‘blight.’ Both come with higher taxes and can be a way to get action.

“What we really want is for the project to happen,” Palmer said. “Right now, it is not happening, so we want the crane to come down until it is. Once the construction project begins in earnest, we want an appropriate-sized crane to be put in place and utilized. Until then, we want the property to be categorized as blighted.”

On April 17 of last year, Thor Equities submitted a new plan to the Old Georgetown Board for review. The plan reimagined the site as an eight-story, 256-room hotel with a single level of retail, simplifying a much more elaborate plan. But building designs take time to be approved in D.C., especially in Georgetown. There are too many cooks in the kitchen, some say.

Meanwhile, the fenced-in construction site and the tower crane that spins around in the wind are not considered to be dangerous, according to Palmer. “I called DCRA a couple of years ago before a projected hurricane and they assured me that the tower crane could withstand such weather,” she said.

However, as the Georgetown Business Improvement District reminded Georgetown commercial property owners and shopkeepers this week, during protests that may turn violent, loose construction materials can become projectiles. As a precaution during our current era of frequent First Amendment activity, the BID has asked local businesses to clean those materials up.

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