Rashid Salem of Salem Capital Development credits recent EastBanc projects, like Ledbury, with helping to change the landscape of Georgetown.
As DC’s rapid growth draws eyes toward such neighborhoods as H Street NE, the Wharf, 14th Street, and Brookland, tried-and-true Georgetown is seeing its own evolution. Here, Salem Capital Development’s Rashid Salem (qstreetdc.com), Washington Fine Properties’ Thomas Anderson (3201 New Mexico Ave. NW, Ste. 220, 202-944-5000), and EastBanc’s Philippe Lanier (3307 M St. NW, Ste. 400, 202-737-1000) weigh in.
Developers and buyers are clamoring for space in up-and-coming neighborhoods. Can the same be said for Georgetown? Rashid Salem: It’s one of the hardest places in the city to do business as a developer because people are willing to take on personal projects. Someone might have grown up wanting a place on M Street, and when the perfect house finally comes up, they’ll pay whatever it takes. It’s highly competitive. Thomas Anderson: It is one of the most historic towns of its type in America, and one of the most desirable places to live in the capital region.
How does Georgetown compare to buzzy areas like 14th Street and U? Philippe Lanier: It’s not wrong to say there’s a lot of action there, but more leases have been signed in Georgetown in the last three years than in any of those other neighborhoods. TA: Georgetown’s history and community make it more of a village than a true downtown. The houses date back to the 1800s and 1700s, bringing a very real sense of charm. It boasts many parks, giving an in-town living experience a little more dimension, and it has the shopping and restaurants.
What are some of the challenges to developing the area? PL: When you change these historic buildings, you have to bring them up to code, and next thing you know, you’re rebuilding from the inside out. The start of EastBanc’s success was when we found a way to combine them… and make the buildings more amenable to what retailers wanted. RS: The Old Georgetown Board is particular. [But] if you’re going to buy something in an historic area, Georgetown has their process down, since they’ve been doing it for so long.
A few restaurants have left, but others are on their way. PL: It’s not hard to attract them to Georgetown; it’s hard to find spaces that suit them. [But] the tide is turning. You’ve got Nobu coming. We’re building across from the Four Seasons, whose ground floor will have a top-flight restaurant. I hear people’s complaints, but I’m confident we’re addressing them. Meanwhile, everything else in the market, we have. It’s still the most diverse place to shop. And the daily foot traffic in Georgetown compared to the other areas is significantly higher.
With all of this growth, who is the Georgetown resident? RS: To Georgetown buyers, prestige means something. There’s a different cachet… You see buyers from California spend $60 million on 31st Street. More than just diplomats and political people want to live in Georgetown.
What are some musts for Georgetown home buyers? TA: A garden. It provides more for urban living. RS: Having that private oasis, walking out of a 60-year-old home into a little garden—you feel like you have a piece of history.