Washington, D.C. – The DowntownDC Business Improvement District (BID) on Wednesday released its 2015 State of Downtown Report, which includes comprehensive data, statistics and analyses that shows that while many Downtown economic sectors set performance records in 2015, its major economic sector—the office market—had a mixed performance.
“Overall, 2015 was a good year, not a great year, for Downtown” said BID Executive Director Neil O. Albert.
[Download the 2015 State of Downtown Report here.]
Albert stressed that the BID can do more to reduce homelessness in Downtown, in part, by working with the city to find and secure a Downtown daytime homeless services center. The BID is also actively working to better manage Downtown’s public spaces and is pleased to be moving forward with the D.C. Government and the National Park Service to renovate the BID’s largest green space, Franklin Park.
The 2015 State of Downtown report was unveiled Wednesday at the 2016 State of Downtown Forum [#SOD2016] sponsored by the Newseum. At that event, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser thanked the BID for its role in revitalizing DowntownDC and said that a “strong Downtown is fundamental for a city’s success.”
Bowser noted that the city in the past did not earn a great “reputation for working with businesses,” but she said that reputation is changing due to a reduction in corporate taxes and other factors. “D.C. is a good place to start a business… a good place to do business” today, Bowser said, adding that the city will continue to engage with and cultivate the business community.
A lively panel discussed the report in detail at Wednesday’s forum, which was moderated by James MacGregor, market president and publisher of the Washington Business Journal.
“In 1991, our Downtown at that time was largely a pit,” said D.C. Councilmember Jack Evans of Ward 2, who was first elected in 1991. Referring to Downtown’s transformation, Evans said, “it didn’t happen by chance and we didn’t just get lucky.”
In 1997, when the BID was founded, there were 111 redevelopment sites in DowntownDC. In 2016, there are 11. BID Board Chairman Randall Boe, executive vice president and general counsel for Monumental Sports & Entertainment, joked that when the BID started in 1997, the “one good thing about going to games was that there was a lot of parking” in Downtown.
Additional panelists who participated Wednesday were Elizabeth Broun, director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Tony Costa, senior advisor for the U.S. General Services Administrator and Peter D. Johnston, BID board vice chairman and executive vice president and regional manager of Boston Properties.
Broun said her museum’s strong 1.3 million attendee figure in 2015 was boosted by museum programming and the programming and events that occur in Downtown in venues such as the Verizon Center. She said the “vitality of the neighborhood,” including places such as the Verizon Center, supports their museum. “It is a vitality for downtown that cannot be replaced,” Evans said of the Verizon Center.
Metrorail was also under discussion Wednesday morning and Evans and Costa, who both serve on the board of Metro (Evans as chairman) asked the attendees to support funding for essential repairs to keep the system operational. “Metro is wearing out and it has to be fixed,” Evans said and made mention of a reported Metrorail fire Wednesday morning. “There was never a dedicated source to fund the Metro,” Evans said, and that, coupled with the fact metro has just two tracks are flaws that continue to negatively impact the system.
Report Quick Facts: As of April 2016, the BID had 3.4 million square feet (SF) under construction valued at $1.7 billion. Five large projects were currently under construction as of April 2016: Capitol Crossing, the new headquarters for Fannie Mae, 600 Massachusetts Ave, a Modus Hotel and a Moxy Hotel. Downtown added approximately 2,000 jobs in 2015 for a total of 186,000 jobs and continued to have the largest share (24%) of D.C. total employment with 766,400 jobs. Downtown Class A asking rents of $65 per SF were the third highest in the nation. Downtown’s 14 museums had a record attendance of 5.8 million and theater-goers totaled 773,000. The Verizon Center drew 2.5 million visitors. DowntownDC hotels were among the best performing hotels in the nation. http://www.downtowndc.org/sod