Letter from the CEO: Progress on Downtown 2027

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Neil Albert

Dear DowntownDC Stakeholder:

Two and a half years ago, we released our Downtown 2027: Vision for the Futurereport where we outlined a number of ambitious goals for downtown in the areas of transportation, the economy, the public realm and human services. Below, I’m pleased to share the progress that we and our partners have made towards these goals. 

  • Transportation: The BID in 2017 highlighted dedicated funding for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) as a major goal, due to Metrorail’s continued importance in the overall success of downtown. That goal became a reality in 2018, when  WMATA secured $500 million per year in dedicated regional funding. This funding will support another transportation goal outlined in the 2027 report: improving Metrorail service reliability. The BID also continues to stress the importance of late-night Metrorail service to support the nighttime economy and how and when to reestablish that service continues to be under discussion at the leadership level of WMATA. In 2017, the BID recommended and requested that the DC government fund the building of the K Street Transitway to improve growing issues related to congestion, traffic and safety along the K Street corridor. Last month, Mayor Muriel Bowser pledged $122 million to build the K Street Transitway, which would create dedicated bus lanes and other infrastructure improvements between 12th and 21st streets NW designed to improve safety, transit and reduce traffic. In the area of bus transit, we stressed the need in 2017 for changing fare payment structures and currently, the mayor has extended her Fair Shot February free DC Circulator program indefinitely.
  • Economy: In 2017, we encouraged the implementation of an office-to-residential conversion incentive program for downtown. Today, legislation that would fund the incentive has made it out of the DC City Council Committee on Finance and Revenue and we continue to advocate for its full approval at the full City Council level. The BID also continues to pursue other initiatives designed to increase the housing supply. The BID in 2017 advocated for the redevelopment of critical downtown buildings including the FBI headquarters, WMATA headquarters, and the Department of Labor building. The US General Services Administration (GSA) announced late last year that the FBI headquarters will remain on Pennsylvania Avenue and the campus will be renovated. Earlier this year, WMATA announced it will split its headquarters staff and functions among locations in DC, Maryland, and Virginia.  The importance of Capital One Arena to the downtown and District economies was also highlighted in our 2017 goals, and we set a goal of keeping this significant sports and entertainment venue downtown. The arena in 2018 not only remained downtown but completed a $40 million renovation to improve their fan experience. In support of our 2017 goal to make downtown a regional shopping destination, the BID completed a retail study with HR&A and Dochter & Alexander and will soon begin implementation. In the area of culture and entertainment, downtown is poised to welcome four new museums: the DC History Center; Planet Word; the Children’s Museum; and the Museum of the American Educator. The International Spy Museum closed and the Newseum is planning to close, but the National Law Enforcement Museum opened in 2018.
  • Public Realm: In 2017, we stated the need to transfer jurisdiction of federal parks to the District of Columbia. In 2019, President Trump signed legislation permitting the transformation of Franklin Park, the largest park in DowntownDC. The District of Columbia is now able to invest its capital dollars in the renovation and construction of the park through a cooperative management agreement with the U.S. National Park Service (NPS). Franklin Park’s groundbreaking is set to take place this fall, and the BID will operate and manage the park upon its reopening. In addition to Franklin Park, the BID set a goal to renovate and activate other public spaces. The BID since 2017 has expanded free programming and currently, the BID hosts four summer series in National Park Service parks (DowntownDC Live, DowntownDC Summer Flicks, Chinatown Block Party and Children’s Story Hour) as well as spot programming throughout the year. The BID has also entered into a partnership with the Indiana Society to renovate Indiana Plaza with NPS. In 2017, the BID also set a goal to establish a non-profit to support the BID’s philanthropic efforts, including public space and park improvements. This year, the BID unveiled the DowntownDC Foundation 501(c)3, which will be activated this month. 
  • Human Services: In 2017, we stated the need to reestablish daytime services in downtown for individuals experiencing homelessness. In February 2019, we opened the Downtown Day Services Center through a $1.7 million grant from the District of Columbia. The Center offers guests a single access point for a range of services from food, showers, laundry and restroom facilities, to legal, employment, housing, health care and other assistance. In 2017, we expressed the need for accelerating the process for individuals to obtain housing. In 2018, through the support of JP Morgan Chase & Co. and other supporters, the DC Landlord Partnership Fund was fully capitalized. This fund supports landlords in offering housing to individuals experiencing homelessness. The BID continued to fund a weekly drop-in center for at-risk youth and fund and support street outreach services provided by Pathways to Housing DC. The BID also began conducting monthly homeless counts in order to more accurately measure the challenge of homelessness in downtown. 

We look forward to continuing to work with you, the private and public sectors, as well as the community in achieving our 2027 goals.  

Thank you for your contributions and your continued support. 

Sincerely, 

Neil Albert, President & CEO 

DowntownDC BID 

Read more: “Downtown 2027: Vision for the Future”

Read more: “FY 2018 Annual Report

Read more: “State of Downtown 2018 ”