Harbour Ice Rink Planned
Published: Friday, September 9, 2011
Updated: Friday, September 9, 2011 09:09
Washington Harbour owner MRP Realty recently unveiled plans to build a 9,000-foot ice rink as part of its efforts to drastically revitalize the Georgetown waterfront.
According to Julie Chase, CEO of Chase PR and a representative of MRP, the rink will be the cornerstone of the company's renovation plans.
Chase said that this attraction will improve the Harbour's business atmosphere by drawing consumers down to the waterfront during the latter part of the year.
"A lot of people when they come to Washington Harbour, they think of a sunny day by the water. This is meant to bring more people together in the winter. Anyone of all ages can get together [at the ice rink] and have a good time," she said.
"[The goal is] to improve the waterfront so it's a wonderful attraction for Georgetown and more people can enjoy it more consistently."
At the proposed size, the ice rink would be the largest of its kind in the District. According to James Bracco, the executive director of the Georgetown Business Improvement District, the rink would draw visitors to the area.
"[Washington Harbour] is absolutely a destination for a lot of folks coming into town," Bracco said, noting that tour buses routinely drop visitors at the entrance area on K Street.
"I think [the ice rink] would be a huge plus, based on what I've heard and seen of the plan. It might well be the biggest patch of ice in the city. It would be an awesome addition to the complex," he added.
MRP, which has already started renovating the interior of the Washington Harbour office buildings, is also planning on creating a more upscale setting for its restaurants and bars.
Chase said that the realty company wants to provide the waterfront's eateries with a more sophisticated atmosphere, designed to attract Georgetown's professional clientele during the lunch and dinner hours.
Among the improvements under consideration is a 7,000-square-foot fountain; set to replace the current water feature, the design will serve as a focal point for the businesses' new outdoor seating area.
While MRP works on plans for improvement, the company also faces a $5 million class-action lawsuit for flooding that damaged its property last spring.
The majority of the eateries that made their home on the waterfront, including Tony and Joe's Seafood Place, Nick's Riverside Grille, Cabanas and Farmers & Fishers, were forced to shut their doors on April 18 after the Potomac River flooded the fountain and its surrounding shops.
A group of employees from the restaurants on site filed the complaint, claiming that the managing company's failure to raise the property's floodgates was negligent.
In late June, the class-action lawsuit, originally filed by Mason LLP on behalf of Charles Holcomb, a bartender at Farmers and Fishers, expanded to 39 more plaintiffs, most of them employees of waterfront restaurants.
According to a message posted on the website of Tony and Joe's Seafood Place, the interiors of several Washington Harbour eateries had to be fully gutted after the storm.
The restaurant does not list an exact date for the reopening of its indoor dining area, but it has made its outside bar and grille accessible to customers.
Dan Simons, concept developer and managing director of Farmers Restaurant Group, wrote in an email that he is encouraged by MRP's efforts to revitalize the property.
"The renovations and plans for Washington Harbour sound exciting, and we are hopeful that MRP is successful with everything they're seeking to do," he wrote. "We believe that Washington Harbour can be a fabulous all-year-round destination. We continue our dialogue with MRP as we look for a solution that will allow Farmers & Fishers to re-open in 2012."
While these renovations may assist Washington Harbour's businesses recover from the flood's effects, Chase said that her clients were prepared to make changes to the property long before the natural disaster struck.
"As soon as [MRP Realty] bought the property [in June 2010 for $244.5 million], they started reviewing how to improve it. This has been happening from the beginning," she said.
Chase added that the planning stages of the revamp are far from over, as MRP's ideas must undergo review by the Advisory Neighborhood Commission and the Old Georgetown Board.
The owners of Tony and Joe's Seafood Place, Nick's Riverside Grille and Cabanas could not be reached for comment at press time.