Downtown Neighborhood Association Closes

April 11, 2013

The Downtown Neighborhood Association has shut down. The organization started seven years ago by Miles Groves to represent community interests. DNA partnered with Business Improvement District to develop an annual neighborhood survey to help attract new and better retail to Downtown and worked with the the Metropolitan Police Department and others to establish a 10-officer patrol near Gallery Place and the Verizon Center. In 2008. In a parting notice to, the DNA urged all downtown residents to attend ANC 2C meetings, held on the second Monday of each month at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, in Room 221.

Capital Pride Changes Parade Route


Capital Pride announced it will change the end of the parade’s route, changing the route from turning south after 14th and P Streets NW to end in Thomas Circle to heading north on 14th St. and ending at S St. NW. A map of this year’s Pride Parade is available on the Capital Pride website. The 2013 parade will take place on Saturday, June 8 at 4:30 p.m. As in past years, the parade will begin at P and 22nd Streets NW. It will go around Dupont Circle, up New Hampshire to R, down 17th Street and then east along P Street before hitting 14th Street.

Fillmore Arts Center Faces Cuts


The D.C. Department of Public Schools’ 2013-2014 budget includes cuts to the Fillmore Arts Center that leave the program “with no hope of viability,” the Friends of Fillmore group says. Fillmore — part of the D.C. Public School system — provides classes, workshops and summer programs in dance, music, theater, visual arts, creative writing and media arts to more than 3,500 D.C. Public School students each year. The students who benefit from the programs are pulled from Garrison, Hearst, Houston, Hyde, Key, Raymond, Ross, Stoddert and River Terrace schools.The latest round of cuts will force Fillmore’s principal to eliminate four of the five full-time teaching positions that remain at the arts school. Friends of Fillmore is asking DC Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson to restore $300,000 to Fillmore’s budget for next year. So far, the petition has more than 600 signatures of support. Fillmore Arts Center has been active for more than 30 years. It operates two locations, including one at 1819 35th Street NW and one at 915 Spring Road NW.

Georgetown BID CEO Joe Sternlieb Sounds Off

April 10, 2013

Five months ago, Joe Sternlieb took office as CEO of the Georgetown Business Improvement District. After some months under his belt, Georgetowner features editor Nico Dodd checks in to see how Sternlieb has adjusted to his new job and what his plans for the future are.

Georgetown 2028
“Our goal is to make sure that the businesses here do better. Better for the retailers on the streets and more customers in the stores spending more money. Better for the office buildings, meaning lower vacancy rate. Greater stability in the tenant base… So, it’s just thinking about making it work for everybody.
I’ve embarked on a long-range vision process called Georgetown 2028, which is a 15-year vision process that we’re engaging lots of people on our board of directors, key stakeholders and property owners, people in Georgetown, who aren’t on our board, and CAG, GBA, ANC folks, residential neighbors and city agencies. We’re just ready to kick it off. We’ve been doing focus groups for the past month. We’ve done six or seven focus groups, where we ask people a bunch of different questions. So, to think big about what’s happening here. Asking them what’s great and what works about Georgetown, what doesn’t work at all. What areas are really thriving in Georgetown? What areas really need help? We’re collecting all that information, and we’re going to come back to people with, sort of a heavy lift. We’re doing a task force with 25 to 40 people, that’s going to meet for 33 hours. We have 11 3-hour meetings planned to deal with transportation issues, because that’s the number-one problem everyone talks about.”

Transportation & Parking
“Transportation, huge problem. You talk to the merchants, and they say that their customers are always having a hard time finding parking and they’re always getting tickets. They come in to buy $100 worth of stuff, they get a $50 ticket and they’ll never come back. So, the city, they say, is too aggressive. The folks in the ANC say, ‘Look, you’ve got all of these people circling our blocks looking for parking and we want to be able to park in front of our houses.’ You’ve got the parking lot owners and operators, sometimes often not the same people, who are saying we don’t have enough business to stay open on the weekends. Well, part of it’s because you charge crazy amounts of money, right? They can go to Tysons Corner for nothing, or they can charge you $18 for all-day here. It’s an easy decision, right? So, we’re trying to work with all of these folks, and also with the city.
I’ve brought two people on. I’ve been here five months now. The first thing I did was I interviewed everyone on our board. Everyone said transportation. So, the first board meeting we were all at, I said, ‘O.K., this is what you all told me. And transportation’s the number one problem that we have, and this is where we spend our money.’ And I said, ‘We spend $20,000 on transportation.’ We write a check to the D.C. surface transit to market the circulator, and that’s all we spend on transportation. That’s 3 percent of our budget. No, what am I talking about? It’s less than 1 percent of our budget.”

Fashion Night In?
“We are trying to decide what to do about Fashion Night Out this year because Conde Naste cancelled it. So, we can’t use that name. They own the brand and the trademark. So we’ve been talking about what we can do to help the Georgetown fashion industry, and what would be clever and what would be Georgetown-centric and maybe not one night, but maybe over the course of a week or two.”

The Possibility of a New Boathouse
“Georgetown and GW both have the money to build boathouses and get out of Thompson’s and expand their ability. Peter May [Associate Regional Director, National Park Service, National Capital Region] says he’s ‘getting close’ to the Park Service making a decision. It should never take 20 years to decide anything. It’s too long to make a decision. It can take you 20 years to build a Metro system or 20 years to found a country or something, but to make a decisions seems, to me, too long.

Jack’s Boathouse
“The Park Service should have gone to him [Jack’s Boathouse owner Paul Simkin] and said to him, ‘We can’t do this the way it is, and we need to figure out something else.’ If it’s done right, and you play ball, you’ll get to stay there. There’s no nuance in what they do. So, they evict him. It’s crazy.”

Attracting New Businesses to Georgetown
“The Georgeotwn BID has not traditionally done much B2B [Business to Business] marketing. A lot of consumer marketing and advertising that are aimed at the consumer to come to what’s here. What I’ve done is get everyone lined up to get people to reach out to the business community to tell them you need to be here.
What we’ve got is we’ve got a great product. And we’ve got to convince people that sometimes it’s worth paying a premium for a better product.”?

Franklin Park to be Redesigned


The National Park Service, D.C. Government and the DowntownDC BID have come together to transform historic Franklin Park, with nearly five acres of green space. On March 13, the D.C. Office of Planning issued a request for proposals, for the park’s redesign, kicking off a planning process that will extend through the beginning of 2014. After engineering drawings are developed, construction is scheduled to take place in 2015-2016, coinciding with the NPS’s centennial.

Penn Quarter FreshFarm Market Reopens


The Penn Quarter Freshfarm Market, reopened Thursday, March 21 and will remain open throuh December 19, marking its 10th year. Borders Springs Farm, offering lamb products from Virginia, and Prince George’s County-based PA Bowen Farmstead, featuring a variety of meats and artisan raw cheeses, are the newest vendors. More than a dozen favorites will also return this year, including Bread Ovens, Gordy’s Pickle Jar, Floradise Orchids and Sand Hill Farm, coming later in the season. The Penn Quarter market will accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistant Program food cards and provide matching dollars. The latter will be available to people who qualify to receive an additional $15 for market purchases. The By the White House, FreshFarm Market, located on Vermont Avenue between H and I streets, will return on May 2 and open every Thursday from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. until October 31. FreshFarm Markets operates 10 producer-only farmers’ markets in the Washington metropolitan area.

Filmfest DC: Playing Movies for Entertainment


Filmfest DC hits D.C. again April 11 – 21, which showcases a wide range of extraordinary new films from around the world with the theme “Trust No One: Espionage and Thrillers and The Lighter Side,” a series of international comedies. Film highlights include “Midnight’s Children” from Canada based on the award-wining novel by Salman Rushdie, Oscar shortlisted “Kon Tiki” from Norway, “In the Shadow” from the Czech Republic and an entry for best foreign film at the Oscars and “A Hijacking” from Denmark. Festival locations include the Goethe-Institut Washington at 812 7th St. NW, Landmark E Street Cinema at 555 11th St. NW and the National Gallery of Art. General Admission is $11 per person to most films. For more information visit filmfestdc.org.

Walgreens Opens in Chinatown


Walgreens opened in March at 801 7th St. NW with 21,400 square feet in Chinatown. The store includes a pharmacy with a walk-in clinic, a juice and smoothie bar and a boutique beauty department with a nail and eyebrow bar. Spread over three levels, Walgreens’ newest Well Experience flagship store—the seventh in the U.S. and Puerto Rico—will employ 75 people and showcase a unique pharmacy format that offers quality, affordable care and has nurse practitioners on site. The front of the store will be open 24 hours a day with extensive, but shorter, hours for the pharmacy and Take Care Clinic. Douglas Development Corporation restored the building along with several existing properties that are being transformed into a state-of-the-art, mixed-use development that includes about 22,000 square feet of office space and 33,000 square feet of retail on several floors, including the Walgreens, Panera Bread (673 H Street)—which opened in January—and Yo! Sushi restaurant, coming soon.

Business Group to Meet March 20; Former Head Moves to State Bank of India

March 19, 2013

The Georgetown Business Association will meet Wednesday, March 20, for a spring networking mixer at TD Bank at 1611 Wisconsin Ave., NW, 6:30 p.m

ALSO: Rokas Beresniovas, former GBA president, has accepted the position of vice president with the State Bank of India to head its expansion market in Washington, D.C. He was previously with HSBC Bank USA.

USPS Sells Georgetown Post Office to EastBanc

March 13, 2013

The United States Postal Service has signed a contract with local developer EastBanc to sell the historic Georgetown post office building on 31st Street, as first reported by the Washington Examiner. The property is valued more than $4.5 million; the U.S. post office stays.

Anthony Lanier, president of EastBanc, said a post office will remain on the first floor of the 19th-century building which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The sale to EastBanc has been years in the making. EastBanc’s design and use for the building was reviewed by the local Advisory Neighborhood Commission, the Old Georgetown Board and D.C.’s Board of Zoning. Future use of the post office building calls for offices, a back addition with much of the new space below grade, according to the Georgetown-Burleith ANC.
Lanier’s EastBanc group owns and has redeveloped almost 60 retail buildings along M Street or Wisconsin Avenue. It is known for its development of Cadys Alley and the adjacent stores. Another EastBanc development is in the works for condos on Wisconsin Avenue to be built on the Verizon parking lot between the C&O Canal and Grace Church.