Commerce Bank, the east coast financial institution, is patiently waiting for demolition and construction permits to build their newest location at 1611 Wisconsin Avenue in Georgetown, the site of the former Reed Electric building. The bank, acting as its own developer, expects to receive permits by the end of March and plans to get in the ground shortly thereafter (surely, permitting in Georgetown will be easy). The new bank will sit on the north side of the lot, measure 29 feet in height, and house roughly 4,000 s.f. of space, fronting Wisconsin Avenue. Customers will have access to a parking lot on the lot's southern end."We are interested in developing there because we have had great success in the Metro D.C. area. Commerce Bank seeks sites from a retailer's perspective -- focusing on high-traffic, high-visibility sites to develop stores and expand our network of convenient locations. We feel there is a need for our unique type of retail banking in Georgetown," said Rebecca Acevedo for Commerce Bank.
Before any construction begins, contractors will first have to demolish the Reed Electric building to clear the way for the two-story bank, which is planned to tie in to the spirit of the Georgetown's classic rowhouse architecture. According to Jim Clark, principal in charge at MTFA Architecture, the firm responsible for the new bank's design, the building's facade will appear to be modern but will "take the rhythm" from the surrounding neighborhood.
"The building is regarded as the gateway to Georgetown by the Commission of Fine Arts. The front of the building continues the rhythm of bays from the adjacent row houses, and it is a friendly, modern neighbor to the historic context of Georgetown. The building’s exterior is composed of brick, glass, steel and stainless steel trellises. The great expanse of glass allows the two-story interior to be visible from the exterior which is one of Commerce Bank’s signature features on their bank designs," Clark added.
The site is currently zoned C-2-A, so construction will be done as a matter of right, but in addition to the usual list of governing bodies, ie. local ANCs, BZA, etc., the project had been reviewed by the Commission of Fine Arts, which reviews projects particularly in historic Georgetown, as well as the Old Georgetown Board, which 'helped' refine its design.
Commerce's development team is currently working with three bidders vying to build the bank, but in the spirit of the financial services industry, they have decided to keep the details to themselves. Other potential bidders have little less than a month to make an offer before the March 4 submission deadline.