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February 25, 2019

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Ritz-Carlton Georgetown Hosts CAG Meeting on The Future of Georgetown

January 16, 2019

The Ritz-Carlton Georgetown hosted the Citizens Association of Georgetown (CAG) first public meeting of 2019 Tuesday evening. 

 

CAG President Leslie Maysak greeted guests at a reception of cocktails and passed hors d’oeuvres, as over 100 organization members and neighbors gathered to hear about “The Future of Georgetown.”

Joe Sternlieb, Jamie Scott and Cheryl Gray (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Joe Sternlieb, Jamie Scott and Cheryl Gray

Cheryl Gray, CAG VP thanked everyone for coming and introduced Joe Sternlieb, Business Improvement District (BID) CEO and President, and Jamie Scott, BID Director of Planning and Economic Development.

 

Sternlieb and Scott addressed the historic neighborhood’s ongoing concerns about the high number of storefront vacancies. With asking rents the highest in the city, $300 per square foot and more, changing consumer habits (online shopping vs brick and mortar), aging properties, narrow sidewalks, cumbersome approval process, and transportation issues, the business community faces a number of challenges, many beyond its control. 

CAG meeting at Ritz-Carlton Georgetown (Photo by: Judith Beermann) CAG meeting at Ritz-Carlton Georgetown

In 2018, 25 Georgetown stores closed and 18 opened. At the same time, other commercial areas around the city, including 14th Street, The Wharf, Union Market, and Shaw saw exponential growth and more affordable rents.

 

Consumers, especially millennials, Sternlieb explained, “are interested in experiences, not buying stuff.” With two notable exceptions, “Apple and Georgetown Cupcake, Georgetown’s biggest grossing businesses.”

Capital One Cafe and Chase Bank (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Capital One Cafe and Chase Bank

Georgetown property owners are not typically offered a tenant improvement allowance (TI) to build out space. Locally owned businesses are priced out of the market by banks and national retailers.

Capital One recently paid $50 million ($5,720 per square foot) for their new banking cafe at the corner of Wisconsin and M Streets.

 

To address some of these issues, Georgetown has introduced pop-ups with short term leases, experiential coffee and entertainment shops (Blue Bottle, Grace Street Coffee, Escape Room Live) and new retail concepts and boutiques (Bonobos and Aritzia).

Grace Street Coffee (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Grace Street Coffee

The BID is continuing to work with Georgetown Heritage on restoration of the C&O Canal with designers of The High Line, and proceeding with its plans for The Georgetown-Rosslyn Aerial Gondola Lift.

 

Citing its incomparable outdoor parks and meeting spaces, historic charm and annual events like GLOW, Sternlieb expressed optimism, “In 50 years, Georgetown will still be here.”

 

Former CAG president, Ray Kukulski, who died last week, was remembered for his long-standing service to the community.

Joe Gibbons, Kishon Putta, Matias Budman, Lisa Palmer, Elizabeth Miller and Gwendolyn Lobse (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Joe Gibbons, Kishon Putta, Matias Budman, Lisa Palmer, Elizabeth Miller and Gwendolyn Lobse

The Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2E  Chair Joe Gibbons, representing Georgetown and Burleith, introduced his team: Rick Murphy, Kishon Putta, Matias Budman, Lisa Palmer, Elizabeth Miller and Gwendolyn Lobse.

From car thefts to natural gas repairs, Jelleff Recreation Center survey on improvements, and the need for more equitable access across the city, commissioners addressed quality of life issues important to the neighborhood.

Georgetown's great outdoors (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Georgetown's great outdoors


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Bronson Van Wyck Wows Washington Winter Show

January 11, 2019

International event planner, Bronson Van Wyck regaled an overflow crowd Friday with tales of crashing a Hollywood party to throwing Sean “Diddy” Comb’s star-studded 40th birthday bash at The Plaza Hotel in New York. 

Van Wyck was the 2019 Washington Winter Show (WWS) guest luncheon speaker at American University’s Katzen Center. This year's show, with over 40 antique dealers from across the US and Europe, explores the ways we entertain, now, and in the past.

Bronson Van Wyck (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Bronson Van Wyck

Indoctrinated by his mother and grandmother with “a ritual of hospitality,” the Arkansas native landed a job with the State Department as a political aide to ambassador Pamela Harriman in Paris after graduating from Yale. “I worked for the greatest courtesan of the 21st century. She had English reserve and French sensuality." Helping her host diplomatic receptions, Van Wyck explained, with obvious understatement, “Harriman believed that entertaining could be used to get things done.”

 

The environmental design and event production firm, Van Wyck & Van Wyck started when Bronson and his mother Mary Lynn planned a friend’s wedding in 1999. Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour put him on the map after she devoted a 10-page spread to him after being impressed with a Maine wedding he’d planned.

Dogwood trees at The Metroplitan Hotel wedding (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Dogwood trees at The Metroplitan Hotel wedding

For a New York couple’s wedding at The Metropolitan Hotel, he brought in live dogwood trees that pleased the Jewish and Catholic parents: “Get a look at that chuppah. Beautiful wedding arbor. Guests only know what they see,” he said. The trees were eventually transplanted at the couple's home and grew together.

 

Some of this party planner extraordinaire’s favorite tips include: always serve salty hors d’oeuvres so guests get thirsty and flirty, take common ordinary things (like the baby’s breath luncheon centerpieces) to create a big effect, something has to happen every 20 minutes (think animals and fireworks), invitations are the first move in a game of chess, and always light from three angles.

 

Van Wyck’s clients include Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Madonna and Martha Stewart. His new book, Born to Party, Forced to Work: 21st Century Entertaining will be released this fall.

WWS Co-Chairs Marilouise Avery and Johanna Howe (Photo by: Michael Bennett Kress) WWS Co-Chairs Marilouise Avery and Johanna Howe

The WWS loan exhibition from Mount Vernon, The Pleasure of your Company: Elegant Entertaining with George and Martha Washingtonshowcases the American tradition. 

Blue-and-white tradition table inspired by Martha and George Washington (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Blue-and-white tradition table inspired by Martha and George Washington

Weekend events include a design panel, lecture, Jazz Night, and a Sunday event for children. For more information and tickets, visit Washington Winter Show.

(Photo by: Michael Bennett Kress)

(Photo by: Michael Bennett Kress)

Judith Beermann

(Photo by: Micheal Bennett Kress)


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