Biz Confab Seeks to Revitalize Wisconsin Avenue, Fix Theater Sign
Residents and business persons met Nov. 29 at the old Georgetown Theater, now emptied of its jewelry stands, to discuss the commercial potential of Wisconsin Avenue in the center of the village. The brainstorming session, sponsored by the Citizens Association of Georgetown, was headlined by Councilman Jack Evans, real estate developer Herb Miller and retail broker John Asadoorian, a board member of the Georgetown Business Improvement District, with CAG secretary Topher Mathews of the Georgetown Metropolitan as moderator.
All that is left of the theater is its rusty, street sign, which hangs as a reminder of the loss of unique retail businesses near Wisconsin Avenue and O Street. Among the vanished: Georgetown Pharmacy, Little Caledonia, Au Pied du Cochon and Neam’s Market, frequented by residents for decades. “I would love to see that sign re-lit,” said Angie Heon Nys, one of the Heon family owners of the Georgetown Theater property at 1351 Wisconsin Ave., which has been for sale for more than two years. Others thought the idea of re-lighting the sign – not a new idea – could be a catalyst for this commercial stretch of the avenue. “I remember when Wisconsin Avenue was more important than M Street,” said George Heon.
While chains get the attention, Mathews offered a break-down of Georgetown retail businesses, showing that more than 70 percent are independents. Of all retail, roughly 25 percent are restaurants and 25 percent are clothing stores. Asadoorian said the market was the main driver of which businesses would choose to set up shop and added that Georgetown might be getting the reputation as “a hard place to do business.” Evans recalled all the work done to improve the town’s infrastructure. Miller said that there needs to be a vision for Wisconsin Avenue “from Safeway to the waterfront” -- and that government money might left over from downtown programs to help. One possible sign of the future was the provider of refreshments for the group: the newly opened Paul Bakery, located near the intersection of Wisconsin and M. Paul is an international chain eatery of French breads, pastries, crepes and sandwiches that fits in nicely with Georgetown’s present and past.