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Retail Space Eyed for Prospect St. Parcel

By Katie PearceCurrent Staff Writer

On a prime location in Georgetown, a new two-story retail building dubbed “Prospect Place” is planned to replace a longtime surface parking lot.

The new building, plus two levels of underground parking, would take over what is now the Doggett’s Parking lot, at 3220 Prospect St. behind Restoration Hardware. The proposal is scheduled to go before the Old Georgetown Board, part of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, on Oct. 2.

Preliminary designs show a building dominated by glass, with limestone on the first level and red brick on the second. The main entrance would be nearest to Wisconsin Avenue, with the parking garage entrance on the opposite side to the west.

Plans call for excavating an underground parking garage with 101 spaces, replacing about 84 spaces in the current Doggett’s lot.

The multiple parcels that make up Doggett’s Parking are owned by the Weaver family, which also owns a showroom for its W.T. Weaver & Sons hardware firm around the corner. The longtime Georgetown family hired the Arlington-based McCaffery Interests real estate firm to undertake the development.

Juan Cameron, managing director at McCaffery, said the new building could accommodate either one or two large retailers or several smaller ones. The design, with several distinct storefront bays, is “broken up visually so that you could put in five or six individual tenants,” he said.

Mike Weaver of W.T. Weaver & Sons was unavailable for comment. The Washington Business Journal this week took note of the family’s legacy in Washington, starting out as pioneering farmers in the Palisades area and later founding the Georgetown Gas Co. and the Weaver Brothers real estate firm — in addition to the hardware store, which the family opened in 1889 at 1208 Wisconsin Ave. The showroom remains there today, above Abercrombie & Fitch.

Cameron said the Weavers opted for retail for the parking lot site as opposed to residential or mixed-use because they wanted a project that was economically viable — without having to bring in another partner. The family also wanted to preserve public parking “to provide back to the community,” he said.

In advance of the Old Georgetown Board hearing, a committee of the Citizens Association of Georgetown got a chance to review the early plans last week.

“We’re really happy with the proposed retail use,” said Victoria Rixey, who chairs the Historic Preservation, Zoning and Planning Committee. She said the panel prefers commercial uses for that corner.

The full board of the citizen association is expected to vote on the proposal tonight, according to Rixey, who said her committee “looked favorably” on the plans.

The Georgetown neighborhood advisory commission is also slated to review the concept at its next meeting, on Sept. 29.

Cameron said his team has been meeting with staff members from the D.C. Office of Planning and the Old Georgetown Board over the past few weeks, and anticipates more community engagement: “The reception to date has been positive, but obviously it’s got a long way to go.”

Cameron said the team is aiming for a late 2015 groundbreaking.

According to Tom Luebke, secretary of the Commission of Fine Arts, a key challenge for the project will be its ability to transition between the large-scale retail on Wisconsin Avenue and “the smaller residential scale” just west on Prospect Street. “The biggest issue is compatibility to those older houses,” he said.

Luebke said an earlier iteration of the project envisioned a larger scale, but it was never formally submitted.

This article appears in the Sept. 24 issue of The Georgetown Current newspaper.