15 Signs Georgetown is Back
With Millennials overrunning Penn Quarter, NoMa, Shaw, Bloomingdale, Capital Riverfront, Clarendon and the rest, and City Center every day announcing a Burberry or a Boulud, people wonder whether all the oxygen’s been sucked out of the west end of town. We put on our Docksiders, read some old Art Buchwald and wandered the cobblestone looking for answers:
1) G’Town still has the only Apple Store in the city—normally with lots more people in it than this picture shows.
2) DC has a new love affair with water (see: Forest City’s Yards, PN Hoffman’s Wharf, Peterson’s National Harbor), and Georgetown was there first. Or ask MRP, Rockpoint or HFF whether they were happy with the $75M markup they got selling Washington Harbour in 2013.
3) Georgetown Park is back—Lanier and Miller resolved their differences, Vornado rehabbed and sold to Jamestown, and the new owner (who also has Chelsea Market and Ghirardelli Square) knows how to innovate.
4) EastBanc’s 1055 High St, designed by Beyer Blinder Belle, got snapped up in eight days at $1,300 a foot. And the flood of empty nesters wanting to feel young by going back into the city has just begun. Fortunately, they grew up with the Kennedys, took French in high school and think G’Town, like the Upper East Side, is the ne plus ultra.
5) Celebrities are still flocking. Ben Bradlee may be gone but new Post publisher Fred Ryan and Politico’s Robert Albritton have arrived. Even Under Armour’s Kevin Plank (so cool, that’s a picture of him above at a Bisnow event) has returned. (He used his grandma’s rowhouse to start the company.)
6) If you think Georgetown is just Martin’s Tavern, you haven’t tried Fabio Trabocchi’s Fiola Mare from Penn Quarter or Chez Billy Sud branching from Petworth, or heard that Palena’s iconic Frank Ruta dons his toque next month at the Capella Grill Room.
7) They may not have a subway to attract visitors, but they could be getting the city's first gondola. The Georgetown and Rosslyn BIDs are doing a feasibility study—presumably they will find it will not only be more fun than driving, but faster than taking the Key Bridge.
8) Stylish placemaker Anthony Lanier is still at work buying and building—like at the Lukoil gas station across from the Four Seasons, where he’s planning to replace high-test with high-end (restaurant and residential) just like he turned an incinerator into a Ritz-Carlton showpiece.
9) Property is still worth fighting over. Where else is every square inch deemed so desirable that two of the top social figures in the city—Mark Ein (above) and Jane and Calvin Cafritz—publicly battle as neighbors over a proposed garage?
10) The commercial art gallery center of gravity has shifted from DuPont Circle to upper Wisconsin. And high-end art has never been cooler.
11) What other submarket has three five-star hotels—the Four Seasons, Ritz and Capella? Or the assortment of Hollywood and international royalty who stay there?
12) Frank Saul and Mike Balaban, who could pioneer Millennial-attuned micro apartments (350 SF) anywhere, chose the hallowed former ground of Michel Richard. (This is just a generic picture; they haven't unveiled their take yet.)
13) As if it weren’t enough to be the capital of cupcakes (from international icon Georgetown Cupcake to local favorite Baked & Wired), now it’s also the Mecca of Macaroons: Olivia Macaron, Dean & DeLuca, Café Leopold, Paul, Patisserie Poupon, Malmaison and Macaron Bee.
14) Cool companies want to be there: Connie Milstein’s Dogtag Bakery (food training for vets downstairs, business training upstairs); Rent the Runway ultra fancy designer dresses available for the day; and companies like EverFi and Peter Thiel’s Palantir that we hear JBG is helping to attract to the east side of Jefferson Street.
15) Architects know about style, and there are more of them there per capita than any other place (that we can think of—that’s our idea of rigorous research): Lehman Smith McLeish, Hickok Cole, Shalom Baranes Associates, EYP, HOK, Core, Bowie Gridley, Hugh Jacobsen, Frank Schlesinger, Cox Graae & Spack, Hartman Cox, Cunningham & Quill, Beyer Blinder Belle. And given office vacancy in the Metro, c’mon, they could locate anywhere. Bonus point: Hickok Cole's trendsetting annual Art Night.
Caveat: There may be a flaw in our talking about whether Georgetown is back. Maybe it never left. After all, it’s been there since 1751—so old the George refers to George II, not George Washington. Even Café Milano has been here since the 1800s (we think).