Greater Greater Washington

What's the future for Georgetown's "Third Places"?

The Barnes and Noble in Georgetown has given up its lease, giving way to an unnamed retailer paying an unusually high $65 per square foot.


Photo by NCinDC on Flickr.

Why the closing of a large chain store struck a particular chord with Georgetowners (and others) is that it was a perfect "Third Place." This term, coined by Ray Oldenburg in his book The Great Good Place, described those places in a community where people come together outside their home (first place) or work (second place).

They can be bookstores, cafes, pubs, libraries, whatever. To Oldenburg, and those that follow him, these places are most essential parts of that community.

What made Barnes and Noble a particularly great Third Place was that it offered Georgetowners and visitors alike a place to escape from the heat or the cold (or just the crowds), but you didn't have to pay anything to use it.

Commenter Ben wrote on Georgetown Metropolitan,

This is terrible news no matter how one looks at it. I can't fathom of any retailerBloomingdales, Saks, H&M, whateverfilling the hole that the B&N will be leaving behind. It was one of the precious few commercial spaces where one could literally "kill time" without racking up enormous bar tabs or restaurant bills. I spent many an hour in this store, browsing, sipping coffee andyesbuying.
Many of the classic Third Places continue to exist in Georgetownthe Marvelous Market seating area jumps to mindbut as restaurants like Nathans get swapped for tourist traps like Serendipity, the price has gone up while the "community" quality has fallen.

Oddly enough, if there's one store that can fill the "just want to browse out of the elements without buying something" void, it's the Apple Store. Every time I go in there, people wander in just to play with the toys for a while before wandering out (which 9 times out of 10 is exactly what I'm doing as well). It's not quite the same as browsing great literature (or a great magazine rack), but it's the least technology can do for us after killing our bookstore.

Cross-posted on the Georgetown Metropolitan.

Topher Mathews has lived in the DC area since 1999. He created the Georgetown Metropolitan in 2008 to report on news and events for the neighborhood and to advocate for changes that will enhance its urban form and function. A native of Wilton, CT, he lives with his wife and new daughter in Georgetown.  

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Sorry, you can't expect B&N to maintain a book store, when people just come to drink coffee. That's what bars, in French cafes, are for.

by Jasper on Aug 30, 2011 10:21 am • linkreport

Jasper - who's expecting anyone to do anything? No one's suggesting B&N should remain open as an act of charity to the neighborhood.

by Corey on Aug 30, 2011 10:24 am • linkreport

I agree that this is a loss. M Street is gradually seceding from Georgetown, becoming a tourist strip that residents increasingly avoid.

The response of the community should be to invest in third places in our community. The playgrounds, I can say as a parent, are my main third place. As Georgetowners grow younger and walk more, and invest more in neighborhood schools, we won't be dependent on corporate space for community the way suburbanites go to malls for community. The challenge is to push for our neighborhood transportation to support the walkable community that residents increasingly want.

by Ken Archer on Aug 30, 2011 10:33 am • linkreport

I understand Mario Batali and friends are looking to open an Eataly in the DC area. Could this be the location, and would such a place not also be a "third space?"

by Dave J on Aug 30, 2011 10:38 am • linkreport

ooo i hope its eataly! that is a great idea!

by dabinder on Aug 30, 2011 10:43 am • linkreport

I said it before and I'll say it again, Georgetown is being overrun by the automobile. Georgetown has lost much of its community or destination feel to become a perpetual parking lot. Planners rarely pay attention to the residents and students who live in the area and who want to walk and bike to their local instiutions. But packed streets, low parking prices, skinny sidewalks, and no dedicated public transportation lanes has made much of Georgetown uncomfortable and burdensome to visit.

by cmc on Aug 30, 2011 10:44 am • linkreport

While I'm sorry to see B&N go (I'm always sorry to see a bookstore go), I have to say, honestly, that it never was my favorite location for the chain in these parts. It always struck me as having a good deal of unfulfilled potential. Here's hoping that whatever replaces it fulfills some of that potential more.

by Ser Amantio di Nicolao on Aug 30, 2011 10:48 am • linkreport

CMC and Ken Archer's comments make no sense. How exactly is the closing of the B&N related to the automobile? If Georgetown is so hard to get to, why are retailers flocking there? I'd say Georgetown is a very walkable community and remains so today. Having playgrounds is a very separate issue for one very specific demographic.

Jasper, Apple Stores seem to be doing very well -- highest sales per sale foot -- using the exact model you mock. I suspect B&N was doing well. An eataly would be interesting, although I dread more yuppie traffic into georgetown. Georgetown cupcake has been destructive.

Losing the B&N -- a cool place on a hot day -- is a real loss. the ability to SIT also makes a big difference. Furniture stores can play a role in replacing that. Dean and Deluca can play that role to a small degree. The georgetown mall is also ok but I've noticed a lot of shady character hiding around there.

by charlie on Aug 30, 2011 10:50 am • linkreport

I'm sad to see it go because it's a few blocks from my office, and was very convenient. However, I've found myself going far less often since I purchased an e-reader. As that trend accelerates, more and more bookstores will close, even the mega-stores that were vilified for their role in the demise of the small independent neighborhood bookstore (especially since those chain mega-stores devote so much square footage to non-revenue producing "third places.")

And Eataly would be a fantastic replacement for B&N.

by dcd on Aug 30, 2011 10:56 am • linkreport

God I hope Eataly doesn't go to Georgetown. What an inaccessible disaster.

by Nicoli on Aug 30, 2011 11:05 am • linkreport

I agree with Nicoli; gtown is already harder to access via public transit (compared to other parts of the city) and encouraging more driving through the city to get there is going to make M St+surrounding areas more of a parking lot.

by BVH on Aug 30, 2011 11:11 am • linkreport

I don't really lament the loss of all the small bookstore that closed, that much. Lots of the chain bookstores in the 80s and early 90s were lame. Borders and Barnes & Noble were great, but I didn't need both of them. What I lament is that I felt there was room for a mega-bookstore chain you could depend on being there, and it fit in well to Georgetown.

by JustMe on Aug 30, 2011 11:37 am • linkreport

In some ways, the streets themselves are the Third Place, particularly the commercial corridors. But Ken is right that Georgetowners themselves don't use the streets as much for those purposes as tourists and people from elsewhere in the region, who "go down Georgetown" to pass the time.

The Mall would, of course, be an excellent spot of this type, but it seems like more and more of a lost cause every day.

The Georgetown University campus is a great Third Place, but, you know...

by Dizzy on Aug 30, 2011 11:41 am • linkreport

Planners rarely pay attention to the residents and students who live in the area and who want to walk and bike to their local instiutions.

I'd suggest anyone who feels this way get involved with your ANC(s) and/or BID in Georgetown and let them know that. These are the groups that threatened injunctions and lawsuits over bike-sharing installation in the past, fight bike racks in easily found and accessible location, blocked improvements to the trail through Rose Park and fight tooth-and-nail the slightest hint of a loss in auto parking. From my experience, DDOT planners have longed to make bike/ped improvements, but have met with nothing but resistance from the community.

by jeff on Aug 30, 2011 11:43 am • linkreport

While the loss of any 'third place' is lamentable, I can't really shed any tears for Georgetown. With the waterfront spaces, multiple parks, playgrounds, churches, library, etc., the neighborhood has far more third places than most anywhere else in the city. They're better maintained too.

by jeff on Aug 30, 2011 12:01 pm • linkreport

This piece reminds me of the passage in Jane Jacobs' Death and Life of Great American Cities about successful urban places imploding because they got too successful.

M St. is has been an outdoor shopping mall for Virginians and tourists who want a nice urban environment rather than going to Tysons or Pentagon City for some years now. That's not completely a bad thing, as it has been an unquestionable financial success. I don't know if this is a bad thing for Georgetowners or not and it's not my place to make that judgement call.

The $65 per square foot implies that Georgetown is already well beyond the situation in Death and Life where there was a bank on every corner. Except, replace bank with major retail chain store. Again, not necessarily a bad thing. Those stores' proximity to each other is mutually beneficial for each of them. One customer shops in multiple stores in one trip. It's also beneficial both financially and in social cache to have a regional-serving retail district in Georgetown.

Perhaps local Georgetowners could leave M St. to the regional shoppers and tourists (can't beat the money it generates!) and seek to rezone a different corridor for local-serving businesses. Many regional-serving destinations have services for locals, too. M St. is a regional destination by any measure. No local-serving business can compete with $65 a square foot. A local-serving corridor would be able to offer more reasonable rents in much older buildings.

I'm thinking that there is something to how the businesses are arranged in Silver Spring. Ellsworth Drive is for the regional-serving amenities like the movie theathers, Whole Foods, chain eateries, and DSW shoe store. The small locally-owned and locally-serving restaurants, shops, and bars are scattered throughout the rest of downtown Silver Spring. I shop at both kinds of places and it works well because they complement each other in their offerings.

Dupont Circle is similar in that much of the regional-serving amenities are on Connecticut Ave. while much of the local amenities are on 17th St NW and P St. NW.

Perhaps Georgetown could delineate M St. as a regional-serving retail place and maybe rezone Prospect or P St. NW for local-serving amenities?

by Cavan on Aug 30, 2011 12:18 pm • linkreport

@ Cavan: maybe rezone Prospect or P St. NW for local-serving amenities?

You're making sense here, which is why this will never happen. Remember that, according to real Georgetowners (that's all people in Georgetown, except those related to Georgetown University, tourists, and people trying to get through the neighborhood), all or Georgetown is backwater residential streets, where outsiders (including all those who are related to the University, tourists, and people trying to get through the neighborhood) are not wanted.

by Jasper on Aug 30, 2011 12:32 pm • linkreport

I'm already sad about the dearth of bookstores in DC, and here goes another one. Funny, for such a smart town it sure is hard to buy a book.

Anyway, Georgetown, like Old Town, is an absolute automobile disaster. Those two towns love to tout their historical preservation, but all they're preserving is the 1960's attitude that cars rule all. The first thing Georgetown should do is replace on-street parking on M with bike lanes. That'd go a long way to restoring its (literally) polluted atmosphere.

by OX4 on Aug 30, 2011 12:34 pm • linkreport

@cavan - That seems to be a bit of a solution looking for a problem. There's already a lot of non-chain establishments in Georgetown. It's what has always lured me to the neighborhood no matter how much I loathe the lack of bike parking and overabundance of tourists (maybe they should allow locking up to the tourist?). I worry that promoting more retail on P or Prospect (there already is some)would just steal businesses away from other great retail environments that are underutilized and need solid anchor stores to continue to thrive.

@OX4 Bridge Street Books is just down the street and has a really great selection despite its small size.

by jeff on Aug 30, 2011 12:50 pm • linkreport

@OX4, Perhaps you haven't been around here long ... but what actually saved Georgetown from extinction was the construction of off street parking such as the garage below Georgetown Park (in the early 80s.) The Georgetown of today is a far different place from the Georgetown of the 70s which looked like 18th Street in Adams Morgan does now ... being filled basically only with trendy restaurants, college bars, and discount clothing places ... (and warehouses on the south side of M down to the river.) Had it not been for a change in policy that encouraged building more parking, Georgetown might still be like 18th Street in Adams Morgan. And this makes sense when you think about it. We don't live in isolation. We are part of a much larger metro area ... and in order to fully participate in that Metro area we have to be not only car friendly but car welcoming. As for bike paths, there's already one running through the heart of Georgetown along the banks of the C&O Canal. And then there's K Street which is very biker-friendly ... and when you get down to it 'just about every other street in Georgetown' which is biker friendly owing to the narrowness of streets there and short blocks which only permit relatively slow automobile speeds through it.

Unfortunately 'MORE BIKE LANES' isn't the solution to everything.

by Lance on Aug 30, 2011 12:59 pm • linkreport

I hope B&N in Clarendon won't close any time soon. Makes me think about DC's livability. You often hear that if you live in Arlington, it's not really urban living etc. But in my opinion Clarendon is a better (urban) place to live than any DC neighborhood. You have better access to anything you need within walking distance. Plus it's safe.

by yrb on Aug 30, 2011 1:01 pm • linkreport

I too will miss the B&N, but as for its virtue as a place to escape the heat or cold and not have to pay for it, doesn't that describe most retail stores in Gtown, including the shopping mall?

by grumpy on Aug 30, 2011 1:19 pm • linkreport

Well, Georgetown in the '80's had bookstores, markets, and independent movie theaters in addition to restaurants, hotels and bars-- and they're all gone now. I used to go to Georgetown every once in a while, now I don't.

by MattF on Aug 30, 2011 1:21 pm • linkreport

It does sound like Georgetown is heading straight in the direction of no longer supporting locally-serving retail. Not necessarily a bad thing-- it generates plenty of tax revenue and foot traffic -- but the problem is that DC is extremely intolerant of any kind of commercial activity. Once M Street was considered "ok" for commerce, no other streets can be considered. The small corner stores scattered through the rest of Georgetown are "grandfathered" in. DC just lacks the political and cultural mechanisms to support the expansion of business when it becomes necessary.

by JustMe on Aug 30, 2011 1:25 pm • linkreport

@Lance,

The problem with Georgetown is that it isn't pedestrian friendly. Of course you can drive your car around the block for 15 minutes looking for parking and when you are fed up, park in the garage and call it a day. But what about walking to your destination? Because of skinny sidewalks, due to large traffic throughways, pedestrians are literally zigzagging there way up the block, dodging tourists, photographers, and people waiting in inane lines. A commercial corridor should allow people to walk at a leisurely place to allow them to window shop, sit at an outdoor table, or go in and out of stores if they choose. Tourists, a vital economic resource for the corridor, don't care about human or automobile traffic because Johnny Rockets is only a block way. Residents, the customers who become regulars, are growing fed up with the lack of accessibility, which leads to the death of local establishments and the rise of national or regional chains.

The market will always respond appropriately within its established parameters. The parameters we set for Georgetown give the automobile top-billing.

by cmc on Aug 30, 2011 1:33 pm • linkreport

The parameters we set for Georgetown give the automobile top-billing.

Which isn't necessarily bad, as long as there are alternatives!

But there aren't alternatives in the nearby Georgetown area, and there never will be, just like the area around Barracks Row will never be adjusted to accommodate locally-serving retail displaced by the restaurants and high rents, because Brracks Row is where commerce is allowed, and DC will be damned if they're going to allow such dirty, dirty behavior to be allowed anywhere else.

by JustMe on Aug 30, 2011 1:44 pm • linkreport

Had it not been for a change in policy that encouraged building more parking, Georgetown might still be like 18th Street in Adams Morgan.

I'm confused by this logic. 18th St is one of the few streets in Adams Morgan where parking has been expanded to accommodate the influx in car traffic.

by Scoot on Aug 30, 2011 1:46 pm • linkreport

Ken - re suburbanites relying on corporate third places

You DO know that playgrounds serve as third places in the suburbs, dont you? And parks, to a lesser extend. In fact I would say one of the quality of life advantages of Fairfax cty over, say, Prince William, is its park system.

Though I would suggest that the waterfront park in Georgetown is a pretty good amenity as well.

Old Town and autocentrism - I've always found Old Town Alex an excellent place to walk - its not as crowded as Georgetown. Plus of course it has metrorail (as well as metro bus, dash buses to the neighborhoods, and Dash circulator buses,as well as convenience to the MVT) It ALSO has relatively good auto access (but parking is just difficult enough to scare away the dyed in the wool suburbanites) I think its a pretty good example of a multimodal place.

by AWalkerInTheCIty on Aug 30, 2011 1:49 pm • linkreport

racks Row will never be adjusted to accommodate locally-serving retail displaced by the restaurants and high rents

Like the crack dealing and prostitution that used to go on there? Exactly what type of 'locally serving retail' are you looking for? Seems to me that Barracks Row has a healthy mix of old and new residents along with visitors shopping there.

by jeff on Aug 30, 2011 2:10 pm • linkreport

@Cavan

Perhaps local Georgetowners could leave M St. to the regional shoppers and tourists (can't beat the money it generates!) and seek to rezone a different corridor for local-serving businesses.

I'm curious how you'd accomplish this. How would you structure a zoning ordinance to distinguish between local-serving businesses and regional-serving ones?

I'd argue that any such distinction would be counter-productive and would have some far-reaching unintended consequences.

The fundamental issue is the proposed rent for the new space, which is quite high. That, to me, speaks to demand for more retail space. Now, if you were meaning to loosen zoning restrictions in a way that allows more commercial activity by right in all zones, then I think that would be a good thing - but trying to have one commercial zone be 'regional' and another be 'local' by the terms of the type of zoning is a difficult task.

Zoning is a rather blunt tool, it is meant to shape the physical aspects of a building. It can effectively shape the use of a building only in a broad sense - your high-end regionally-focused boutique clothing store uses the same physical retail space as your locally-owned corner coffee shop. Discerning between one use or the other in a legal manner via the zoning code is, I'd argue, both a mistake and a fundamentally impossible task.

The other reality this seems to embrace - Georgetown could stand to build more space.

by Alex B. on Aug 30, 2011 2:13 pm • linkreport

Alex, I think you caught my mistake. It's not a zoning issue. It's a matter of too little space given the demand. I pointed out Prospect Street and P St. as places. They should have more space. It's not purely a zoning issue. My previous comment oversimplified the topic of how to address the problem of a lack of local-serving amenities despite an extremely large amount of regional-serving amenities. I was focused on identifying why things are the way Topher describes them.

by Cavan on Aug 30, 2011 3:12 pm • linkreport

@Cavan

Gotcha. I think you nailed the fundamental issue - the remedies are tricky.

by Alex B. on Aug 30, 2011 3:27 pm • linkreport

Personally, I'm not mourning the loss of a chain big box store on M St. I'd rather spend my time and money at Baked & Wired which has amazing coffee, better cupcakes than that other place in georgetown with ridiculous lines, and has a relaxed atmosphere away from the hub-bub of M St.

I also agree that demand for commercial space in Georgetown is so great that the city should zone more of it for commercial.

by Falls Church on Aug 30, 2011 3:30 pm • linkreport

@Alex B. 'The other reality this seems to embrace - Georgetown could stand to build more space.

that's right ... what's it need with homes anyways? Let's push to change the law to allow it all to be used for retail and commercial. Oh wait ... isn't that what the Office of Planning is already doing with its proposed re-write of the zoning regs?

by Lance on Aug 30, 2011 3:31 pm • linkreport

Lance, have you ever seen Office Space? Ever see that scene where the guy reveals his new prototype novelty, the "Jump to Conclusions Mat?" Do you own one? Did you just use it?

Because I don't see how allowing more commercial space would displace residential uses in Georgetown. It sure hasn't throughout the rest of the region. Same with the rest of the United States and world.

by Cavan on Aug 30, 2011 3:49 pm • linkreport

I used to spend many a lunch break at that barnes & noble, that will be sad. I stopped buying a lot of new books, though, just too expensive. I also prefer Bake & Wired over other places, and I will also remember the backwards (inward-opening) doors at that B&N.

by Aaron on Aug 30, 2011 4:38 pm • linkreport

Hm. I'm not necessarily a huge fan of the "build Georgetown up" mentality. Development in a built-up area is a zero-sum game, and something would need to be removed in order to add to the neighborhood.

I'll side with the Anti-Neighbors, and say that high-rises have no place on M St, and that historic structures should be preserved.

Why not encourage Georgetown to grow eastward, and more gracefully blend into Foggy Bottom? That area could certainly use some enlivening. (Oh, and Georgetown's need for a streetcar is almost blindingly obvious, given that the area is perceived to only be accessible via bus or car, and the roads are already packed to the brim with both.)

Adding more parking to Georgetown won't do anything, as the roads can't handle any more cars. Ditto for buses -- the Wisconsin/M St buses already have a pretty bad bunching problem. Adding more will only make the problem worse.

by andrew on Aug 30, 2011 5:16 pm • linkreport

The car-oriented comments are funny. When I still owned a car, I did everything possible not to use it in Georgetown. On a Fall or Spring day, I'd even walk there from Adams-Morgan and I still occasionally do it from Logan, although the G2 is a little more efficient. As for transit--there's plenty of it, although it's all those unglamorous things called buses. People like to trash G'town, but plenty of people go there who aren't tourists or from Virginia.

Georgetown has evolved. When I lived here in the 90s, it had indie movie theatres and book stores which I miss. Galleries had been leaving for quite sometime, although some still remain on the edges of the main shopping district. G'town still hosts places that are local even if some of them are Georgetown cupcake. OTOH, it has the best gelato place in DC. It also home furnishing stores, something that had been largely absent in the past. Many of the chains are one of kind locations for DC (e.g., Thos Moser, Patagonia, Kiehl's) or relative rarities in the area (Northface), so it remains a real destination regardless of whose paying the rent. Many of the recent loses are places with plenty of other locations like B&N (or the recently departed Pottery Barn), or stores selling garish "designer" men's clothes on Wisconsin. So, G'town evolves. It's a horrible place to drive and it isn't on a Metro and you can't a loaf or regular bread there, yet none of that really seems to be a problem.

by Rich on Aug 30, 2011 5:54 pm • linkreport

@ andrew: high-rises have no place on M St, and that historic structures should be preserved.

Why? Being old is not a reason to keep something.

@ Rich, but not personally: People like to trash G'town, but plenty of people go there who aren't tourists or from Virginia.

I love this insanity of Georgetowners hating their neighbors: Virginians. It perfectly shows the silliness of the political lines that have been drawn through our region. I'd almost a say that Georgetowners hate everybody that has to cross water, because they love to snub Foggy Bottom as well.

by Jasper on Aug 30, 2011 9:03 pm • linkreport

@Rich 'and you can't a loaf or regular bread there'

I guess you haven't checked out the new Safeway on Wisconsin?

You make a lot of good points in your post. Things change. For example, the loss of the indi theaters in the 90s (which had been there forever) was a negative, but in its place opened the large AMC Theaters on K Street which definitely are nicer than the M Street multi-screen movie theater which for a long time existed where (I think) the B&N has been located the last decade. And for those of us who like indi flims, there's of course the E Street Theater and Bethesda Row Theater which fill that need .... and do it better than the old indi theater in Georgetown ... Things change, things evolve. Historic preservation has never been about stopping that change, but rather about managing it so that the fundamentals of an area don't change ... or at, that the positivie fundamentals of an area don't change ... and you retain what preservationists call 'sense of place'. Georgetown can still be Georgetown with all new stores and even with many new buildings and many adaptively re-used old buildings. The key is just to ensure that what 'new' comes to Georgetown is Georgetown. This same aim applies to all our other historic districts. It's not about casting buildings and stores and places in amber, but rather all about preserving a 'sense of place'.

by Lance on Aug 31, 2011 8:19 am • linkreport

As John Hodgman so deftly put it on the Daily Show last week, bookstores are a dying industry. So too is the idea of someone leasing retail in Georgetown at $65/SF for people to lounge around in.

Hodgman: "We have to face facts, Jon. The big-box bookstore has passed into history. And that’s something we should embrace and be proud of. By preserving Borders as a popular historical attraction...Bring the kids down to Ye Olde Borders Towne! Let them see what it felt like to paw through a clearance bin of Word-a-Day calendars [or] the giant rack of weird magazines you’ve never heard of. Including my personal favorite, Bookstore Magazine Rack Aficionado magazine."

Jon Stewart: "You know, I think a bookstore preserve might appeal to a — a very small market."

Hodgman: "Well, it can’t be smaller than the market of people who buy books."

by Dane on Aug 31, 2011 11:19 am • linkreport

M Street might be the big-box tourist trap, but if you've walked or driven up Wisconsin Avenue past Prospect St recently you'll notice multiple vacant spaces. WI Ave could be the right venue to serve locally-serving retail that still keeps it within the historic retail district.

by WestEnder on Aug 31, 2011 11:32 am • linkreport

@ WestEnder:M Street might be the big-box tourist trap

Tourist trap, yes, but one with happy tourists.

But big box stores? Can someone show me to a Best Buy, Target, Walmart, or Nordstrom on M St? People, get out in the real world sometimes. An Apple store is not a big box store. It's a smallish exclusive national chain.

by Jasper on Aug 31, 2011 1:18 pm • linkreport

B&N is good for public restrooms (even cleaned with reasonable regularity). Does anyone use it for anything</> else?

Hopefully Eataly will have public restrooms as well.

by b on Aug 31, 2011 5:48 pm • linkreport

@b: Does anyone use it for anything else?

Nup. But then again, I used to go to Borders...

by Jasper on Aug 31, 2011 8:52 pm • linkreport

Wasn't there an outrage when Barnes and Noble moved in and forced Olsen's out? A little ironic how things have changed in the last decade.

by Joe on Sep 2, 2011 9:33 am • linkreport

Try this M Street fantasy...

Define the problem. Admit that people want to come to Georgetown, that commuting is a reality, and that at least some people use cars to do both. At the same time, at least some residents of the self styled "Village of Georgetown" understandably resist development in the residential areas. So welcome the visitors in a way that makes a better neighborhhod. Isn't that what we want cities to do? So....

Create a connection to a large parking garage serving Georgetown directly from the Whitehurst. (My original hope when they built Georgetown Park.) Less M Street traffic. Better access to the waterfront. And as long as we are in fantasy land, maybe some backfill with parking (at least temporarily)of an underused, essentially inaccessible, and badly in need of rework Georgetown Park mall.

Narrow M Street at least to its previous width. At least one lane less than currently, reversable by predominant traffic direction. This gets you wider and more walkable sidewalks (they once were), real tree boxes where trees might survive, and room for sidewalk activities and a commercial district that might better support "third places". Eliminate M Street parking and consider a green median. Of course, keep encouraging bus and bike use.

So we might get less traffic through the area while retaining accessibility, better pedestrian access and more use, and a tree lined urban street to boot.

Yes, you need a traffic study and DC collaboration, GP changes are a challenge from an economic and building code standpoint, and we can come up with a list of difficulties. But we could get a vibrant, economically stronger, tree lined urban commercial street that connects with larger community.

Then do MLK. Or, because architecture and development communicate values, even in chronological parallel. .

Thought?

by Marc on Sep 7, 2011 2:07 pm • linkreport

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