Georgetown is subject to its share of popular but wrong myths. None is more prevalent — or wrong — as the myth that resident opposition to a Metro stop is why there’s no station here. It persists as a myth because it comports with what a lot of people think about Georgetowners (and in turn reinforces those opinions).
Well, GM has noticed another myth is starting to take hold: that the oppressive design review of the Old Georgetown Board is why it took the Apple Store two years to open in Georgetown.
Like many myths, there is a kernel of truth at the heart of it. Namely, it is true that it took Apple a long time to get design approval for the new building. But first of all, it didn’t take two years, it took 19 months. The first design was submitted for review in September 2007 and the final design was approved in March 2009. But, yes, a year and a half is rather a long time to get design approval.
But whose fault was the delay?
The Old Georgetown Board rejected Apple’s first design, expressing concern over the wall of unbroken windows that would be presented to the street. The focus was on scale, not necessarily style. The board simply thought a wall of glass with no articulation (i.e., window frames, transoms, etc.) was too inconsistent with the buildings around it. They even encouraged Apple to submit a modern design, just one that addressed this concern.
It wasn’t a flat-out no, it was simply a request to make some tweaks to the design. Maybe you disagree with that request, but so long as you want any sort of design review of construction in a historic neighborhood, you’ve got to accept that you might not always agree with the design reviewers. (And if you think Georgetown would be better off with no design review, check out this monstrosity in Glover Park and ask whether you’d like to see that in Georgetown).
Besides, this request didn’t need to add materially to the length of the review process. Apple could have come back next month with some options to appease the OGB. But they didn’t.
It wasn’t until nine months later that Apple came back with new designs. And rather than make a few tweaks, they came back with an ice cube:
Topher Mathews blogs at The Georgetown Metropolitan . The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.