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Historic Georgetown May Get A VEGAS-Style Facelift

An extensive development project to upgrade Georgetown is already underway, but some fears the plan will undermine the historic character of the beloved Capital district.

The Georgetown Business Improvement District hopes to improve the historic section of Washington D.C. through their Georgetown 2028 project. The 75 item project includes such additions as a glowing bridge, chairlift across the Potomac River and two metro stations. As their action plan notes, “A gondola lift has emerged as one of the most attractive options to quickly connect Georgetown’s commercial district with the nearby Rosslyn Metro station.”

“The Georgetown 2028 plan envisions riders enjoying a hassle-free, four-minute ride that whisks them across the Potomac River as they savor the aerial and skyline views,” the plan also stated. “Georgetown University would also benefit from a gondola lift, as its campus shuttle confronts slower travel times and service reliability along increasingly congested routes.”

“Georgetown 2028 – the eight-months-long initiative that led to this Plan – was conceived as a strategic approach for the community to envision and plan for Georgetown’s business district evolution over the next 15 years,” the plan noted.

The ambitious and expensive project will be funded through a combination of private contribution as well as public funds. The project hopes not to have to raise taxes by borrowing the future tax revenue that might be made as a result of the updated Georgetown. At this point it is not known how much the entire project will cost. However, The Washington Post estimates the Gondola lift could cost upwards of $20 million and the new metro stations could cost $3.3 billion.

Additionally, contemporary, artistic LED programmable lighting will cost $540,000 or more for the Key Bridge and $900,000 for the Whitehurst Freeway.

Justin Shubow, president and chairman at The National Civic Art Society, believes the project is a good idea, but some of the proposals have the potential to undermine the historic character of Georgetown

“The proposal seems like an overall step in the right direction, but we’re concerned about the proposed quote-unquote artistic lighting on the Key Bridge,” Shubow told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Visitors flock to Georgetown for its historic plan and architecture. Flashy lighting fit for a Las Vegas discotheque would clash with the town’s low-key aesthetic.”

Shubow also argues that the current plan is missing a big opportunity to improve Georgetown.

“On a separate note, the biggest question is why the improvement plan doesn’t include the most important step that could be taken to connect the waterfont to the rest of Georgetown, which would be to convert the obnoxious elevated Whitehurst Freeway into a pedestrian-friendly boulevard at ground level,” Shubow notes.

Georgetown is one of the most well-known sections of Washington D.C. for its unique mix of shops, restaurants and nightlife all against a historic backdrop. In fact, Georgetown predates the city itself and since 1967 has been designated as a National Historic Landmark.

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