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Gondolas to Georgetown? Inside the Nabe's Plans for 2028

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Big ideas are on the table for the future of Georgetown. Really big — like gondolas spanning the Potomac, street cars, a revitalized restaurant scene and maybe even a metro station. These and more than 100 other suggestions are currently being considered by the Georgetown Business Improvement District's Georgetown 2028 visioning task force, which includes merchants, property owners, community leaders, architects, office and retail tenants, ANC members and BID board members.

"We're really thinking about how to make this the best place for those who visit, live and work in Georgetown," said Joshua Hermias, economic development director for the Georgetown BID. And why the date of 2028? "Fifteen years is honestly the time we think it takes to make big projects happen," Hermias said, noting that 15 years ago, there were still 30 surface parking lots in downtown D.C.

The Georgetown 2028 process is divided into exploration of three main sectors: transportation, economic development and public space. And when it comes to the 2028 vision of retail, all these issues are interconnected. "I think for retailers, the topic that came up is transportation and circulation," Hermias said. "No one wants it to be difficult to get to Georgetown." Hence, the idea of enclosed gondolas, which could accommodate upwards of 2500 people per hour and connect Rosslyn to M Street, or Foggy Bottom to Georgetown University. It sounds fantastical, but Hermias said it's a proposal that's sparked interest. Other ideas include better wayfinding, streetcars and a Metro station.

Also on retailers' wish list: new, vibrants restaurants that will make Georgetown a dining destination. And while attracting a luxury department store like Bloomingdale's is one of the ideas mentioned in the report from the BID's annual meeting in July and community forum in June, maintaining a mix of well-known chains and local, quirky shops and boutiques is viewed as Georgetown's competitive advantage. The neighborhood's historic character is another advantage, and the C&O Canal will be a huge part of the 2028 visioning.

Don't expect all these proposals to become a reality, though. "We are still in the process of prioritizing these. Add up all the ideas — we have over 100 — and that would take 3 or 4 billion dollars, all told," Hemias said. The task force will prioritize and present their final recommendations in November. Got an idea? Log onto Georgetown 2028 online forum, which is a way for citizens to get involved in the process.

Adele Chapin