The DowntownDC Business Improvement District (BID) presents its Winter 2022 DowntownDC Economy Update, which provides current data regarding the DowntownDC economy across a range of sectors as the nation’s capital reached the end of a second year under the pandemic.
Although it is clear from the BID’s research that the DowntownDC economy is slowly recovering, and even has several bright spots, several of which are detailed below, there is still a long way to go. Economic activity was only 52% of that which occurred in 2019, but this is a marked improvement from the impact that the COVID-19 Omicron variant had in late 2021. And while the number of office workers “in office” is improving each month, underlying office market performance is poor, resulting in a lowering of large office building assessments and a decline of $120 million in annual property tax revenue starting in FY 2022.
Still, DowntownDC remains a major contributor to the District’s economy and tax base, containing 22% of the city’s jobs and generating 15% of the city’s local funds while receiving only 6% of the city’s local expenditures. In addition, there is now more than $1 billion in construction across eight projects, including major developments by Georgetown University and Johns Hopkins University. This is the first time the $1 billion threshold has been crossed since 2018.
Other highlights include:
- The downtown housing market has returned to pre-pandemic levels. Additionally, three office-to-residential conversions are under way, removing 644,000 square feet from the office market and creating 741 new apartments — an 11% increase in DowntownDC housing units.
- The hotel market is at 65% of its pre-pandemic occupancy and revenue performance.
- Destination restaurant openings have been strong since the start of the pandemic. Although 18 destination restaurants have closed since March 2020, 15 have opened, four are under construction, and nine are planned — a net increase of 10 restaurants by the end of 2022.
- Capital One Arena attendance is at about 80% of pre-pandemic levels.
- Walter E. Washington Convention Center attendance is at 70%–80% of pre-pandemic levels.
- Theater and museum attendance is around 50%–70% of pre-pandemic levels.