A Georgetown resident speaks out against proposed East Banc expansion

Photo by Maria Kinnane
Alley behind M Street
Alley behind M Street

This past Monday, Nov. 28,  2011, at the ANC meeting, local residents near the public alley behind 3200 M St. and Prospect Street voiced their strong objections to plans by EastBanc, Inc. to add a mezzanine level and rear alley access to the Coach store at 3259 M Street.  At the OGB meeting on Dec. 1, EastBanc representatives stated that they planned to make changes to the existing building because the Coach store lease was almost up and they wanted to make the renovations before the next tenant moved in. EastBanc, Inc. owns five properties along the alley.  EastBanc representatives indicated that the modifications to the Coach store were only the beginning of their planned development of the alley behind M St. According to The Patch, Phillipe Lanier, a principal at EastBanc, said in a phone interview “it is our intent to make this a version of another Cady’s Alley.”

(Photo by: Maria Kinnane)

I am a resident on Potomac Street, with my private parking spaces on this alley.  I wish to bring to the public’s attention that the proposed changes in the alley, as apparently envisioned by EastBanc, would significantly compromise the usability of the alley for residents, impeding their access to their homes and businesses, due to the increased traffic, pedestrian and vehicular,  brought by the commercial development of the alley.  Several businesses also have private parking spaces  in the alley.  These spaces would also become unusable with the additional foot and commercial traffic. It is very important to note that the alley access on Potomac Street is only 7 feet wide, due to a railing along one wall.  Further down this dead end public alley, the width is only ten feet.

I also have grave concerns about the increased noise and disruption which would be brought by the conversion of this small space into commercial use, greatly affecting the quality of life of the residents and businesses along the alley.  We also expect that our property values will decline with the proposed development.

(Even for any new businesses that EastBanc may bring in, the existing space in the alley would be extremely difficult to navigate, even if primary access would be through Prospect Street.)

 It is clear that the rights of the existing residents and businesses in this alley would be significantly compromised by the planned development.

I believe that the point of view of the residents and businesses in this small area need to be presented to the public, otherwise, commercial interests may continue to slowly infiltrate and change the nature of our community, concomitantly violating the rights and interests of its residents. 

I do not believe that Georgetown residents wish to cede their lifestyle and community to commercial interests.  However, I do believe that Georgetowners would be strongly supportive  of commercial enterprises that would work to integrate the needs and welfare of the community in their proposed development plans. 

I do not believe that EastBanc is working in a constructive way with the community in their development plans on the alley behind M St. and Prospect Street.

Written by Maria Kinnane

0 Comments For This Article

Anonymous

Well said.

I completely agree. Another Cady's Alley would be charming, but if it would prevent residents from being able to park on their property, then the proposal is not only impractical and illegal, it's also, frankly, immoral.

The big fish normally eats the little fish. But sometimes, the little fish bites back!

Anonymous

I wholeheartedly agree with the author of this article. Potomac Street is too residential to have that volume of commercial activity on it.

Anonymous

The real areas in need of desperate renovation and "the idea of a second Cady's Alley" are the junky stores with shady tenants along Wisconsin Avenue. Instead of expanding the space of the next tenant after Coach shouldn't EastBanc focus on that instead of making the M street corridor even more congested? " A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush."

Dave Roffman

I agree with the author one-hundred percent. And I am not Anonymous.

Prodevelopment

Keep your government hands off my government subsidized parking space!

Anonymous

The rights of all the stakeholders needs to be heard through an organized group meeting with a neutral facilliator.

Anonymous

I have tried to park in that alley and it is very hard as it is. If commercial development takes place there, parking will be impossible. It should not happen.

Virginia Burton

There are several huge differences between this alley and Cady's Alley:

1. Unless Anthony Lanier has plans to buy and tear down the Champions/Blue Gin building, the alley is a dead end. A dangerous dead end, at that, with many places that a lurker could hide.

2. Cady's Alley is wide enough for two vehicles. Delivery trucks are parked there all day long, but cars are able to maneuver around them. That would not be the case with the Potomac St. alley. It would be impossible for delivery trucks to get in and out.

3. Cady's Alley has only one (private) parking area. It is at the 34th Street entrance and has a security gate. Such protection is not feasible for the private parking spaces along the Potomac Street alley.

4. Do we really need another Cady's Alley? More expensive shops? More fancy restaurants, with the attendant problems of stench, garbage, and rats? And I'm not so sure the shops in Cady's Alley are doing all that well. A number of businesses have closed there and several retailers who are there have told me privately that they are not happy with the situation.

5. The condos at Cady's Alley were created at the same time as the shops, so anyone who bought one was aware of the traffic, pollution, and noise that they would be subjected to. The residents of Potomac and Prospect Streets who bought/rented their living spaces did not.

Roscoe

I remember when Champions came around with the petition that all business owners/managers had to sign that they had no objection to closing the Potomac Street alley at the Wisconsin end and putting a sports bar there. Too bad Lanier wasn't around thirty years ago.

You know, if Lanier is so keen on developing an alley, the perfect one is just a block to the east. Congress Court, the alley that runs between Wisconsin and 31st Street would make an excellent shopping area. There are several businesses there already, and no residents to bother.

Natalie

I'm writing this note from my second home on Martha's Vineyard. I'm here for the annual Christmas in Edgartown celebration. What is so striking about Martha's Vineyard is the control the community has maintained in keeping its environment beautiful and compatible with the needs and best interests of the Vineyarders and visitors. New businesses are certainly very welcome here, but they must offer goods or services which enhance the quality of life here, rather than detract from it.

Vineyarders are very involved in their community. I wish more Georgetowners were likewise as involved in the development of Georgetown. In general, developers and businesses have been able to buy up, lease, or develop properties with very little apparent involvement from the community or the local government. Certainly, projects, such as Cady's Alley, have somewhat "improved" what was previously there (abandoned warehouses), the improvements have been better than nothing at all, but have hardly provided enhancements of beauty or real value to the area (as in shops where one actually buy something one can use!!!!)

I challenge Georgetowners to really become involved in their community -- and take back control of their town -- a good place to start would be with this proposed ridiculous development of the miniscule, narrow, alley behind M Street. It would benefit no one, except the developer, and would provide a shining example of business interests robbing existing residents of the community of their peace, privacy and access to their own private parking spaces.