City Desk

No Apple Store for D.C. Anytime Soon

Attention local urban sophisticates! You will not be able to visit an Apple Store in the District of Columbia anytime soon!

That scoop comes courtesy of the underappreciated, under-Webbed Current newspapers, which explained in last week's editions [PDF, see pp. 1 and 19] that plans for the District's first Apple Store are held up in a thicket of regulatory approvals, from the Georgetown advisory neighborhood commission and the Old Georgetown Board.

Earlier this month, both bodies rejected Apple's design—the third the company had submitted for the property at 1229 Wisconsin Ave. NW, a Georgetown storefront the company has owned for more than a year—because, as the Current's Carol Buckley puts it, it "would not fit into Georgetown."

Nay, not even this testimonial, delivered by an Apple project manager, can cut through the red tape: "Steve saw this design and really loves it."

That's Steve Jobs, people. Steve Jobs!

When will you hoity-toity bureaucrats wake up and realize that when Steve Jobs loves something, that means you must love it, too?

The Current describes said design as such: "a glass first story with a solid stone upper facade punctuated by a large window shaped like Apple's logo." The Old Georgetown Board, charged with preserving historic preservation standards, "felt that the design turned the building into a billboard," according to a spokesperson. The ANC, charged with being parochial nitwits, raised concerns that the latest design was "too modern."

What are you missing out on, obstructionist Georgetowners? Well, as the Washington Business Journal put it in 2007, you're missing the "one retail store that any town, and any developer, covets above all others. A store with such cachet that any retail center blessed enough to land one becomes instantly certified as a platinum-level shopping mecca, with clientele who are urbane, savvy and have loads of disposable income."

Georgetown, though, does not covet thy neighbor's urbane, savvy, income-disposing customers—got plenty of those already.

So suck it, Jobs! Shoulda gone to Chinatown!

Flickr photo by ping ping

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  • Proz

    Do you realize that Apple is going to be KNOCKING DOWN a nice building for this? To build a one story apple store. I don't care who you are, you don't just knock down buildings in a historic neighborhood so you can build it just the way you want it. Adaptively reuse it to meet your needs, but don't bulldoze it.

    I figured people would find a way to blame Gtown for this, but I absolutely agree with them. Apple doesn't operate in a vacuum. If they don't want to play by the rules, fuck em.

  • Stating the Obvious

    Will the Apple store permit napping and oversized suitcases? If not, it's descriminatory.

  • Downtown Rez

    From the perspective of the Georgetown Historic District, the real issue isn't that they'll knock down a non contributing building and replacing it with another, it's that whatever they replace it with must not detract from the historic district.

  • al gonzales

    Good for Georgetown! That's why we Georgetowners love the village. If the proposed Apple store does not conform to the historical standards - & it certainly sounds as though it does not conform - it should not be built.
    No soup for you, Steve Jobs!

  • cminus

    I heartily applaud Georgetown's action in this matter. Bravo, Georgetown!

    I also ask -- nay, beg and implore -- Apple forget about Georgetown and go someplace Metro accessible instead. Navy Yard or Penn Quarter would be best, of course, because they're up-and-coming neighborhoods that are close to my house. But so long as I no longer have to go across the river to Clarendon or Pentagon City, I'll be happy.

  • Arthur Delaney

    Hey, I remember reporting a story for the Hill Current about how Union Station is gonna boot all its shops and restaurants. The story, of course, is not online, but I still have a draft. Check out my money quote from David Ball, prez of the Union Station Redevelopment Corporation:

    “[The management company is] looking at something like a Barnes&Noble down where the movie theater is, or could you get an Apple store down there,” Ball said.

  • Adams Morgan

    I find it funny that all the blogs that have reported on this fail to mention that the plans for the Apple store mean knocking down the existing building, be it contributing or not...

    While G-town has the cache of being a shopping destination, I would think Apple would rather be downtown (Penn Quarter) where surely they could build out a space with all the white, smooth, clean lines that they want *and* get more foot traffic from the gabillion of downtown, ipod wearing worker drones.

  • rplat

    Considering the crime rate in that sewer of a city it's probably wise of Apple to stay out of there.

  • al gonzales

    # 7, Apple tried to move to Georgetown, but we rejected Apple. So Apple "would rather be" in Georgetown, but since Apple doesn't want to follow the rules, it's out.
    #8, you're a moron. Go crawl back under the rock you left.

  • Andrew

    It's really too bad that the Apple Store can't bring it's trend setting vibe to such a historic building and district. It's really a shame the French Connection is no longer with us in this location. They well maintained and represented the historic hodge podge that is Wisconsin. I suppose If Apple wanted to build Store with giant whale on the front, and sell computers made of patchwork plaids and terrycloth the permits would flow like a fine dinner wine. Hell Maybe they should look into taking over that sushi bar over by the movie theater... oh wait nobody ever sees that.

    PS if Steve Jobs would like designs for a terrycloth Irobe I can draw one up. I need a Job.

  • anonymous

    "Earlier this month, both bodies rejected Apple’s design—the third the company had submitted."

    I'm quite surprised. As illustrated by the following examples, Apple can adapt the traditional glass and stainless steel design if need be. Sometimes the exterior is left entirely intact. So what gives?

    103 Prince Street, New York City, NY (converted Soho post office)
    http://www.apple.com/retail/soho/

    Regent Street, London, UK (building is owned by the Crown Estate)
    http://www.apple.com/uk/retail/regentstreet/

    451 University Avenue, Palo Alto, CA (building protected by a heritage law)
    http://www.apple.com/retail/paloalto/

    54 W Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA (retained the original façade)
    http://www.apple.com/retail/pasadena/

    4712 Broadway St., Kansas City, MO (retained the original façade)
    http://www.apple.com/retail/countryclubplaza/
    flickr.com/photos/felixtcat/2325802361

    738 Lincoln Road Miami Beach, FL (retained the original façade)
    http://www.apple.com/retail/lincolnroad/

    Knox St., Highland Park, TX (red brick)
    http://www.apple.com/retail/knoxstreet/

    8030 Renaissance Pkwy, Durham, NC (red brick)
    http://www.apple.com/retail/southpoint/

  • Dave

    You know, there is an Apple Store in Clarendon, just a few stops away on the Orange line. But that would require a venture into the Old Dominion, something which Districtians are always comically loath to do.

  • Ron

    Somewhere downtown, in the Golden Triangle/Dupont area, or Gallery Place would surely be more suitable and Metro-accessible than Wisconsin Avenue. Georgetown is a miserable, tourist-infested mess. Putting the store elsewhere would almost certainly yield more revenue.

  • Joe

    Penn Quarter/Chinatown is my big preference over Georgetown. Much more centrally located and more easily accessible via Metro. Plus, it is so much more up and coming, trendy like Apple. Steve, say to Georgetown, "good riddance!" and head to a more vibrant and exciting area of DC!

  • http://www.brandongreenandassociates.com/blog/ Brandon

    A shame--but it certainly understands why so many cool establishments end up in Virginia and Maryland.

  • al gonzales

    Proof that you idiots above - & Mr Jobs - should just stay out of Georgetown. We don't want you here. It's one reason we eschewed the subway.
    Just leave us alone. We're happy here with our money & our elegant shops & restaurants, & we welcome the well-behaved & big-money tourists.
    You cheap, ugly, nasty locals - just stay away. OK? OK.

  • http://14thandyou.blogspot.com Ben

    "A shame–but it certainly understands why so many cool establishments end up in Virginia and Maryland."

    "It certainly understands"?

    Well, I guess it certainly does. After all, NoVa and Maryland have no historic preservation or development standards whatsoever, so just about anything can be built there. I don't think anyone WANTS a Clarendon or a Silver Spring in DC.

    As to the location of the Apple Store, put me down for Penn Quarter. Right at the corner of 7th and H, in that dilapidated building formerly occupied by CVS and set for renovation. I don't care if CVS wants to return there in 2010, the Apple Store would be a much better fit.

  • http://14thandyou.blogspot.com Ben

    "It’s one reason we eschewed the subway."

    No, it's not. Metro decided to forgo placing a stop there due to the difficulties in constructing it. The residents of Georgetown, much as they might like to try to take credit for it, had nothing to do with keeping Metro out of their neighborhood.

    http://www.dcwatch.com/themail/1999/99-12-22.htm

  • al gonzales

    Trust me, if we had wanted a subway stop in Georgetown, we would have had one. If we wanted two or three, we would have had two or three.
    Anyway, this is my last post on this topic. It's too bad that Mr Jobs wouldn't comply with the historical standards, but it's his loss, not ours. Maybe they'll put the store around Dupont Circle or Farragut Square - Chinatown / Penn Quarter just doesn't have the juice for an Apple store, but good luck.

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  • Anony Mous

    I love the Georgetown traffic congestion. It gives Georgetown a failed quaint little town feeling.

    Keep those SUVs bottled up. Keep DC Metro out of Georgetown.

  • Aaron

    I'm frankly glad that they didn't build this in G'town. Part of the beauty of the place is the fact that it's not chock full of up-to-the-minute architecture. And there are two Apple stores, both Metro accesible (and a short bus ride to Rosslyn away for G'towners,) in Arlington. Yes, I know we in the District hate Virginia ("Virginia is for haters,") but how often does one go to an Apple Store? I own an Apple and an iPod...and I go like three times a year? And if I'm in a hate-Virginia mode, I can also go to the Apple Store in Bethesda...also Metro and Georgetown Metro Connection accesible. The point is that Georgetown SHOULD protect their unique character and NOT cave to Apple's style. And that Apple people in DC have three places to buy their Apple stuff. We're good.

  • David Porter

    Al Gonzales is a crackpot shit-talker who obviously doesn't have a clear understanding of the situation.

  • al gonzales

    David Porter is a moron. He cannot write one sentence without making two grammatical blunders.

  • chachi

    I can't believe how many people are on the side of Georgetown here. I work in Georgetown, live in the city, and have a degree in architectural history, so I am familiar with this debate. The character of that section of Wisconsin avenue is not sacred, it is filled with contemporary storefronts (though often poorly designed) and the building it would be replacing could hardly be considered critical to preserve the 'historic character' of Georgetown. When will we as a town recognize through design that we are living in 2009, not 1809, and trust that contemporary architecture, especially done well and at the standards apple is known for, can coexist comfortably within a larger historic context? Look at Europe, they present modern design in historic zones all the time and it only adds to the character of a vibrant city. Must we continue presenting our Washington as one populated with backwards looking, conservative pantywaists? Is that the image Apple would want? That any of us want?

  • Steve Jobs

    Clearly Al Gonzales is angry about the Apple store because he can't afford a Mac, and must post these inane comments from the Georgetown Public Library.

  • Dave

    Wow, it appears as though Apple CEO Steve Jobs has graced us with his presence. And only a day after the disclosure that he is suffering from a debilitating hormone imbalance that has caused him to look like this:

    http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/business/appleaday/blog/2008/06/jitters_over_steve_jobs_health.html

    How you hanging in there Steve? Feeling better? Also, how long have you been a City Paper reader?

  • sr

    After 3 tries, Georgetown doesn't deserve an Apple store. It should be placed somewhere more pedestrian-friendly and Metro accessible.

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  • http://www.dctouristsandlocals.wordpress.com Tourist

    Georgetown residents are the reason that there is no Metro in Georgetown, making it one of the least convenient places in the city. Do they really think that the polution-generating busses are more "quaint?" and that they fit in better? Those residents need to get off their high horses and do what's best for the whole city, not just their tainted view of it. I'm sure that at least one of those three designs would fit in fine - if everything looks exactly the same, it looks entirely BORING.

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