In last week's District Weekly article about redevelopment and high rise construction in Georgetown, the name of the artist Laurel Guy, a Georgetown resident, was misspelled.
"I don't think I'll be able to grow tomatoes next year," he said, talking about his small garden and patio that used to get a lot of sunlight behind his home on 30th Street NW near K Street. "And I expect my flowering plum tree may eventually die."
Dorothy Tebbetts, 75, who has lived in a Georgetown row house on 3lst Street NW since l959, recently acquired two new neighbors: a large office building which comes right up to her garden fence in the back and a government building to the side of her home. Before the buildings went up, blocking part of the sunshine, her roses bloomed abundantly in her backyard, she said.
Tebbetts' rose garden and Kukulski's small vegetable patch now lie mostly in shadow, dwarfed by tall office-condominium buildings, towering reminders that the Georgetown neighborhood below M Street is undergoing a dramatic and controversial transformation.
Long-time residents of the area like Tebbetts and Kukulski are unhappy about the inconvenience, lack of sunlight, increased traffic and general disruption posed by a new landscape of high-rise condos and K Street-style office buildings, some of which reach 90 feet in height.
Side by side with the red-brick edifices, both new and restored, that dominate the landscape, there are still small groups of Georgetown's pastel-colored federal row houses.
But, like Kukulski's and Tebbett's homes, they seem overwhelmed by the larger buildings with windows of tinted glass. And the new homogenized architecture contrasts sharply with the earlier landscape marked by smokestacks, factories and warehouses of varied shapes and sizes and, along the canal, groves of trees and other flora.
"You can't have massive 60-foot buildings cheek-by-jowl with 30-foot federal town houses and expect to preserve the historical integrity of the area," says Kukulski, a 39-year-old Justice Department employe who has lived on 30th Street since 1967. He is chairman of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 3A, which has been fighting the change.
"It's like downtown K Street," said Katharine Sullivan, a member of ANC 3A who lives above M Steet. "I feel as if I'm in some commercial district of the city."
The changes that are transforming old industrial buildings into chic, expensive condos and modern offices are largely taking place between 29th and 34th streets NW and between M and K streets -- the original port of Georgetown.
Among the largest of the condo-office develoments are:
* Georgetown Park and Canal House, a commercial residential development with 122 stores, 500 parking spaces and 130 condominiums.
* The Flour Mill, which has 55 apartments and 125,000 square feet of office and commercial space.
* The Paper Mill, which when finished will have 126 town houses.
* The recently approved waterfront project on K Street, slated to have 100-150 apartments, 400,000 square feet of office space and 115,000 square feet of retail space. The project will have more than three times the floor and seating space of the Capitol Center in Landover.
* Jefferson Court, an office building of 296,000 square feet, will rise where the Gallagher lumber yard stood until recently.
"These buildings mean a lot more people, and pressure on the traffic flow here which is already at gridlock," Kukulski said. "You can't put a 20th-century load on an 18th-century street system. Thirtieth Street, for example, is only 30 feet wide and 28 feet wide at the bridge over the canal. The city should make all these streets one way."
D.C. Department of Transportation regulations specify that streets must be at least 36 feet wide to accommodate two-way traffic plus two lanes of parking. Kukulski said he has asked the city's transportation department to make 30th Street one-way, but so far the city has not responded.
Sam Herman, an attorney who lives near Kukulski, said: "The traffic is absolutely awful. You need a hunting license in order to find a parking place."
Developers, however, say the new construction will not negatively affect the neighborhood. One construction company spokesman, Art Galantine, executive vice president of James Place at Georgetown Inc., said the firm got all the necessary approval from city and community organizations.
"I don't feel that what we have put down there is offensive," Galantine said. "We have worked with the Georgetown Citizens Association and the D.C. Fine Arts Commission to comply with their wishes regarding the exterior of the building. The amount of traffic we generate is not overburdening the streets that we front 29th and 30th streets NW ."
James Place at Georgetown, behind Kukulski's house, sits on what used to be a coal yard. Opened last month, it contains 77 condominiums and 16,000 square feet of office space. It is one of more than a dozen new complexes in various stages of construction which feature condos in the $130,000-to-$180,000 price range.
Older residents tend to regard the building boom as an invasion of their community while newcomers who don't know about the past say they are satisfied with the convenience of in-town living.
Howard Cayton, a retired government employe who has lived on the canal between 30th and 31st streets since the early 1950s, said he mourns more than the loss of sunlight.
"We used to be able to go by foot and find anything we needed," he says. "Now, where can you even buy a spool of thread? You have to go downtown."
Esther Lewis, who has lived on Thomas Jefferson Street NW for more than 30 years, remembers the mallards which once inhabited the area along the canal.
"When we moved in," she said, "A stable was being torn down across the street." The stable has been replaced by the Foundry, one of the first of the new complexes to be built, containing 16,000 square feet of office-retail space including a restaurant, ski shop, bookstore and other businessess.
"I used to take a free boat ride over to Roosevelt Island and paint the Georgetown landscape," said Elizabeth Beer, 75, a commercial artist and teacher and a neighbor of Cayton's. The factories had interesting shapes, especially the old powerhouse, she recalled. The new buildings all have plain fronts.
"Back in the old days, the streets were less crowded and there was more of a country atmosphere," Beer said. "We used to gather by the canal and have drinks in the evening. The muskrats liked to nest under the stones."
Even for newer residents who aren't as concerned about losing the old Georgetown character as long-term residents, there are drawbacks.
"I wish there were a 7-Eleven store near here," said Ralph DelGuidice, an equities trader who lives with his wife Barbara at Papermill Court. "I'd like to be able to walk to get a loaf of bread instead of an $800 suit. We don't need chic. Wisconsin and M caters to the suburbanites and the out-of-towners who come in and get loaded. We try to avoid it on the weekends."
But for some Georgetown residents, the lack of parking places, yards with little sun and the tap of workmen's hammers cannot be avoided like the rush hour or weekend M-Street traffic.
"It's ominous," said artist Laurel Gay, a neighbor of Kukulski's for six years. "This used to be a great place to sun yourself. There was a sense of open space. The new building's not hideous. It's just the fact that it is there."