A lot of times, the only interest we have in developments is the finishing touches – -the breaking ground of a new project or the demolishing and refurbishing of a redevelopment. It goes without saying, though, that those moments are not the whole story. There is a lot of fight that goes on without the rallying cry of public interest to push it forward. The redevelopment I wanted to cover today, of Georgetown’s West Heating Plant, was first brought to the table in 2013. For reference, that’s when Macklemore was singing about Thrift Shops and Miley Cyrus was hell bent on killing her Disney princess image by way of a foam finger. If you’ve buried those memories, you’re not alone, and the point is simple: it’s been a while.
The site the city is looking to improve is Georgetown’s dormant West Heating Plant industrial site, which sits at 2900 K Street NW. The timeline for this new approach to an old building has been slowed again and again, due to the wish to both preserve along with improve. After some ambitious plans, and some defiant refusals from involved parties, it seems that after a heap of ideas, the city might have stumbled across one that could stick.
The latest (and most promising plan) was presented in March and then granted a basic level of approval by the Commission of Fine Arts in May. It’s not on the fast track just yet – it still needs to get through the Historic Preservation Review Board come November.
If the HPRB approves the plans, The Four Seasons will partner with Georgetown Companies and the Levy Group to transform the heating plant into a 60-unit luxury apartment development. The apartments would come to fruition alongside an elevated one-acre public park.
While past ideas for the project were rejected due to the park looking too “suburban,” this one has received praise from many influential groups. In the latest version of the design, the lawn is on a slight incline, equipped with a fountain that can collect and redistribute rainwater, and there will be a steel-based pergola for a modern, city-worthy feel.
A lot of the previous snags on the building’s progress have been due to the debate of whether the design should stay true to the long dormant building’s past look, which to many is a historically major contribution to the neighborhood, or take on a totally new design. Unfortunately, the jury could still be out for a while yet. According to Urban Turf, once the decision is on the desk of the historic preservation review board, it could take up to a year. After that process is complete, they will need to go through development, zoning, and construction – another two years likely.
This development still has a lot of heating up to do (pun 100% intended) — but we’re all eyes, Georgetown.