April 22, 2021
Washington, D.C. – The DowntownDC Business Improvement District (BID) today released its annual State of Downtown Report at a virtual forum [click here to watch the forum]. BID President & CEO, Neil Albert, was joined by Mayor Muriel Bowser and City Council Chairman Phil Mendelson along with a panel of industry experts to discuss the impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic on the Downtown economy and recovery efforts already underway.
The Mayor and Albert committed for the City and the BID to continue working together as recovery efforts are underway to bring office workers and visitors back and revitalize small businesses. The report details the unprecedented economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and other 2020 events on the Downtown and particularly those industries hardest hit – conventions, hotels, arts culture and entertainment and restaurants.
Panelists for the forum, moderated by Albert, included: Deputy Mayor of Planning and Economic Development, John Falcicchio; Vice Chairman of Savills North America, Tom Fulcher; President & CEO of the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington (RAMW), Kathy Hollinger; CEO & Founder of Via Metrics, Heather Arnold and President & CEO for the Hotel Association of Washington, DC, Solomon Keene, Jr.
“We wanted to represent the industries whose employees and owners were hit hardest and who serve as the backbone of our economy,” stated Albert in his introductory remarks. “The financial support provided by the DC government and federal government were a lifeline to the people and establishments in these industries and will serve in their returning to an economic solvency quicker, so we want to say, ‘thank you’ for their timely and targeted support.”
DowntownDC BID Chairman of the Board, Greg O’Dell provided a summary of the 2020 State of Downtown report. O’Dell is the President & CEO of Events DC, the official convention and sports authority of Washington DC, an economic sector industry that was significantly impacted in 2020.
The report provides a 2020 timeline to highlight the events and key dates that forced business and street closures due to mandated and health safety edicts related to the pandemic, protests in response to the murder of George Floyd and safety uncertainty surrounding the November Presidential election all of which were contributors to significant negative economic impacts.
In the Spring of 2021, the BID is partnering with the DC government and its stakeholders to begin the economic Recovery for DowntownDC and DC. There are already signs of the Recovery popping up: new restaurants are opening, and more are planned, temporarily closed restaurants are planning to reopen, the final two of DowntownDC’s 33 hotels have announce plans to reopen in May and office employers are planning to bring their office workers back to the office in a safe manner over the next few months.
Panelists discussed the impacts of the past year and focused mainly on employment and bringing back their businesses to the 2019 levels. This includes jobs, accessibility and continuing and building on some of the new regulatory public space improvements. It is important to note the sectors represented by the panelists are all major tax revenue generators for the City and will be important to the City’s fiscal recovery efforts.
2020 State of Downtown Report Highlights By the Numbers:
The Economic Highlights for 2020 are:
- DowntownDC economic activity was at 18% of pre-pandemic levels in December 2020
- 10% of Office Workers were in the office in December 2020
- Office vacancy rate at record high of 15.4% at the end of 2020
- Metrorail ridership in Dec 2020 was 8% of Dec 2019 ridership numbers
- Hotel revenues in 4Q 2020 were 11% of 4Q 2019
- Restaurant sales in Dec 2020 were down 60% to 80% from Dec 2019
- Retail vacancy rates were at a record high of 22.6% at the end of 2020
Some Positive News
- DowntownDC fiscal contributions declined but remain substantial and are estimated at $750 million in FY 2020
- This is a decline of 15% from FY 2019
- DowntownDC remains a major contributor to the DC Budget
- Education investments from Johns Hopkins University and Georgetown Law School will grow DowntownDC’s higher education employment base with hundreds of new employees.
- DowntownDC’s established cultural and hospitality sectors are a key part of Downtown’s recovery plans to draw back visitors and tourists. Destination DC is anticipating hotel and tourism numbers to return to 2019 levels by 2023
- Though office workers are not in their offices, office employment declined very little in 2020.
- 31 of 33 DowntownDC hotels are now open
DC and Federal Relief Were Critical in 2020
- DC government Microgrants and Bridge Fund grants equaled $158.5 million
- Events DC Hospitality Sector and Cultural Institutions Grant of $42 million
- Federal government PPP CARES Act Round One ($525 billion – DC received $2.2 billion) and Two ($285 billion), Shuttered Venues Operator Grants ($16.5 billion) and Independent Restaurant Grants ($28.5 billion)
About the DowntownDC Business Improvement District
The DowntownDC Business Improvement District (BID) was founded in 1997 and is a private non-profit organization that provides capital improvements, resources and research that keep the BID area clean, safe, economically and environmentally strong and accessible. The DowntownDC BID is a catalyst, facilitator and thought leader in diversifying the economy, promoting public/private partnerships and enhancing the DowntownDC experience for all. This special district, where property owners have agreed to tax themselves to fund services, encompasses a 138-block area of approximately 520 properties from Massachusetts Avenue on the north to Constitution Avenue on the south, and from Louisiana Avenue on the east to 16th Street on the west. For more information, visit DowntownDC.org or follow us on Twitter @downtowndcbid.