MRP Realty plans make-over, including a skating rink, for Georgetown’s Washington Harbour


If MRP Realty wins approval for its plaza overhaul, work could begin early next year. (Courtesy of MRP Realty)

MRP Realty, the developer that bought Washington Harbour in Georgetown last year, is planning a $30 million make-over for the office complex that includes updated offices, new restaurant space and a rebuilt outdoor plaza featuring a novel upgrade: an outdoor skating rink.

Under MRP’s plans, Washington Harbour’s plaza — the scene of flooding in April — would be remade to provide more outdoor seating for restaurants and a new fountain that would become the city’s largest outdoor skating rink in the winter.

In the warmer months, according to MRP’s Robert J. Murphy, a 7,000-square-foot fountain would continue to provide an aesthetic for outdoor diners. “What the fountain really does is bring some white noise, which keeps the other noises out for the office tenants and the people dining at the restaurants,” he said.

In the winter — when Georgetown is packed with holiday shopping crowds — Murphy said he envisioned a skating rink attracting more visitors off of M Street to the plaza and enable restaurants to open for longer hours. At 11,000 square feet, he said, it would be the largest outdoor rink in the city.

“If you’re a restaurant owner and you have to make money six or seven months out of the year, it’s kind of tough to survive, which is why you’ve seen some restaurants come and go over the years,” he said.


This was the scene in April when the Potomac River rose to damage Washington Harbor properties. MRP faces a lawsuit for not raising flood gates. (Susan Biddle/The Washington Post)

Murphy cautioned that the plans are still in the early stages of being vetted by neighbors and community stakeholders. If MRP receives approval for an overhaul of the plaza, work could begin early next year, with completion in the spring of 2012. Work to upgrade the property’s 533,000 square feet of office space has already begun.

“We were really only interested in moving forward if there was a strong positive reception and to date that’s what we’ve seen,” he said.

A revamp of the K Street complex would also help MRP turn the page from the flood in April, when 10 to 12 feet of water rushed into the plaza and poured into its restaurants and parking garage. A $5 million class-action lawsuit, filed on behalf of a bartender from one of the restaurant Farmers & Fishers, was brought against MRP for not raising the gates that block overflows from the Potomac River.

Murphy said plans to overhaul the complex have already been met with approval from some Washington Harbour tenants. The law firm Kelley Drye & Warren, one of MRP’s largest tenants, recently agreed to a lease extension through 2025.

Jonathan O'Connell has covered land use and development in the Washington area for more than five years.
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