Macaron Madness on Wisconsin Avenue

Book Hill neighbors object to proposed macaron shop with window service.

Macarons are the new cupcake and they could be coming to Georgetown—that is if Macaron Bee receives approval for its proposed store at 1669 Wisconsin Ave.

Neighbors of the proposed confectionery shop are objecting to the owners' plans to alter the facade to serve macarons out the front window. The primary concerns are that a line of eager macaron purchasers would create noise and obstruct access to nearby properties.

The Georgetown Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) first reviewed the project in December, approving the proposed window alterations. On second review Tuesday, they passed a vaguely-worded resolution to move the project forward with concerns noted.

Neighbors have objected to the plan since they learned about it after the December ANC meeting.

Maurine Littleton, who owns at 1667 Wisconsin Ave., came to the ANC meeting to voice her objections, despite having been robbed that very evening. Littleton argued that making an exception to the rule for Macaron Bee was unfair to other neighboring businesses, such as , that might want to do something similar. She argued that the shop has plenty of inside space to sell the product from instead.

Kathleen McGarrah, owner of the French Apartment at 1671 Wisconsin Ave., agreed, adding, "I don’t think it’s an unfair burden to expect them to have inside sales."

George Gordon, the project architect, represented the owners at the meeting Tuesday because they recently had a baby and were unable to attend themselves. The point of selling macarons out the window, he explained, is that it cuts down on the business's requirements in terms of health codes and costs.

"Is this going to make or break their business?" asked ANC Commissioner Bill Starrels.

Gordon said it could because the interior space "would require a total interior remodeling," which the owners had hoped to wait on until their business was underway and making money.

Starrels reminded the architect that nationwide sensation started off with just a small space and was not limited in its success.

John Asadoorian, a Georgetown developer who spoke about the , told the ANC that by allowing the proposed changes "you're changing the fabric of the street." He added, "so whether someone sells a cup of coffee out of a window or a macaron or a slice of pizza, I think ultimately, you're changing how Book Hill feels."

After half an hour of open discussion and community comment, Commissioners Tom Birch and Ed Solomon both said they were in favor of allowing the project and both Bill Starrels and Jeff Jones felt that the window use was not appropriate. Commissioners Charles Eason and Jake Sticka were absent and Commissioner Ron Lewis was recused from the conversation because his wife sits on the Old Georgetown Board.

Birch proposed the following statement to submit to the Old Georgetown Board: "ANC2E is mindful of the historic nature of this row of buildings in Book Hill and encourages the OGB to take into account those historic preservation matters in its continued review of this project. The ANC favors business proposed at this location and encourages all those involved to proceed with an activity that is least disruptive and takes maximum advantage of the interior space available to the business."

Ultimately, Starrels voted with Birch and Solomon for the purposely vague statement. Jones abstained.

The OGB will review the project Thursday, Jan. 5.


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