Comcast Sounding Retreat in Georgetown Utility-Box Dispute

Refrigerator-sized utility boxes in Washington's historic Georgetown district brought protests from preservationists

Comcast representatives are sounding retreat in Washington, D.C. in the wake of a protest over the recent appearance of the company’s new, small-refrigerator-sized utility boxes on the city’s historic Georgetown district.

Some residents of the community are particularly upset because six of the boxes were installed recently without the usual approval of commissions charged with preserving the neighborhood’s historic architectural appearance.

“It’s a visual distraction which doesn’t really fit in with what we’re trying to preserve here,” Tom Birch, a commissioner on the Georgetown neighborhood advisory commission, told TheWrap, in an interview Wednesday.

“Truth to tell, we’d like not to have them (the boxes) there,” Birch added.

Comcast said it had secured the appropriate permits from the DC government for the upgrades for its Georgetown cable customers, and is now working with “interested parties” to find “mutually beneficial solutions as we continue to provide Georgetown customers with our innovative products and services.”

“We were not aware of additional requirements,” added Aimee Metrick, a Comcast spokeswoman, in the statement.

Neighborhood activists met with Comcast representatives Tuesday, and the company’s officials have now indicated a willingness to go through the architectural review process, Birch told TheWrap.

“We’re hoping that this project will now go into the review process, as it should have in the first place,” Birch told TheWrap. Birch said a review would consider whether the boxes could be moved to rooftops or other alternative locations.

“I’ve got a neighbor who has one right in front of his house now, and I don’t know what that’s going to do to real estate values,” Birch added. “There’s some piece of street furniture out there that wasn’t there for the last 250 years.”