About 40 members of the Georgetown neighborhood community gathered Thursday evening under the auspices of the Georgetown Business Improvement District to discuss proposals to better the commercial functionality of the area over the next 15 years.
Georgetown University’s Robin Morey, vice president of planning and facilities management, sat at the Getting In, Out and Around Georgetown table, which focused on transportation needs.
While Georgetown BID entertained several ideas to improve the commercial appeal of the neighborhood, which at the transportation table included expanded walking paths in Georgetown, changes to area public transit and enhanced police presence and traffic controls, the organizers stressed the importance of local residents’ input. Attendees wrote their ideas on sticky notes, which will be considered by Georgetown BID in future planning.
“We’re trying to come up with a vision plan for the next 15 years for Georgetown. Georgetown used to be the only place in time to come. Thankfully the city has gotten up off its back and is continuing to speed ahead,” BID CEO Joe Sternlieb said in his introductory remarks. “That means that [people] are not necessarily coming to Georgetown anymore. There are lots of things the residents want to see in the commercial district and a lot of things the commercial owners would like to see improve.”
In dialogue at the transport table, Morey confirmed that the university is willing to house a streetcar maintenance facility on Georgetown’s campus should a new streetcar line extend to the university but emphasized that adding such a building will not come without challenges.
“For a sustainable future this issue has to be addressed. We believe that bringing a streetcar to campus would be an excellent option,” Morey said. “It would relieve pressure on the [Georgetown University Transportation Service shuttle] system. But it’s a real estate issue. Where, how do you get it there, what does that footprint look like? … The topography doesn’t help.”
The possibility of a Metro stop coming to Georgetown’s campus was also discussed at the meeting. The area will reportedly be serviced by an expanded blue line that is set to split at Rosslyn and extend from the university campus to Thomas Circle at 14th Street by 2040. The new line is estimated to cost approximately $3.3 billion.
Jonathon Cass, transportation director of BID, could not speculate as to the specific location of the Georgetown stops on the new line or the likelihood of the project being brought to fruition.
Georgetown University Student Association President Nate Tisa (SFS ’14) attended the meeting along with several members of GUSA, including Pieter Fossel (SFS ’14) and Michelle Mohr (COL ’15). Tisa, who spent part of his time at the neighborhood services table, said that the strong GUSA presence was meant to demonstrate that the university represents a large demographic that local business owners should target.
“We wanted to demonstrate that Georgetown students are a permanent economic engine in Georgetown. Our campus provides some [services] but not nearly to the extent that we’re looking for. We wanted to raise that,” Tisa said. “Students are here and we’re a huge potential market.”
Other tables at the event focused on Georgetown retail, restaurants and hotels, the office sector, K Street, historical spaces, public areas and neighborhood relations.