Developers Still Banking on D.C.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
A luxury hotel in the middle of downtown. A housing project remade as market-rate and affordable apartments in Petworth. A supermarket reborn at twice the size in Shaw, amid new housing and shops.
The alarm bells may be clanging on Wall Street, and banks may be tightening credit lines. But developers, assisted in some cases by the District government, are forging ahead with their plans, hoping that the economy will recover by the time they are ready to build.
After years of torrid growth in the District, Neil O. Albert, deputy mayor for planning and economic development, is forecasting a slowdown in construction because "getting any kind of debt financing right now is grinding to a halt."
"There are going to be some projects that will be delayed," Albert said.
But Albert said the city's role as home to the federal government makes it a solid bet for long-term investors. "You've got a number of things coming together," he said. "People are looking for places that are close in, and the federal government is here, which is our biggest employer."
In recent months, the administration of Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) has announced several projects or has invited developers to bid on substantial city-owned parcels.
· A 260-room luxury hotel to be built by the Donohoe Companies on city-owned land at Fifth and I streets NW. The development is also to have 160 apartments, 50 of them affordable; a jazz club; a bike shop; an art gallery; a bookstore; and a 238-space parking garage.
Fenty called the project a "perfect gateway between our bustling Chinatown and Gallery Place entertainment district and the emerging Mount Vernon Triangle neighborhood."
Donohoe representatives said the company expects to break ground in 18 months.