The construction of Nationals Park in Southeast Washington has helped advance the neighborhood around it. (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

The short answer is that the forces shaping the District right now are much bigger than the policies or personas that populate city government. Workers and companies are leaving areas that require long, painful commutes, and as they move into the closer-in areas they are demanding new services and amenities, not so much with their votes as with their wallets. And that’s what investors are watching.

That doesn’t mean the city’s policies don’t matter at all.

Mount Vernon Square would not be so hot for apartment builders right now without the convention center, and the area around the ballpark would not have advanced to this point without construction of the Nationals’ ballpark or the Yards Park project. The legwork for these neighborhoods was done years ago and the city is reaping the benefits now as private investment pours in.

So if there is one function long-term investors in the District want to see from the city government, it is the ability to tee up the next wave of investment-worthy neighborhoods. Can Benning Road become an extension of H Street Northeast? Can Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue become the next U Street? Can St. Elizabeths hospital transform Anacostia and Congress Heights? Many landowners say these places need improved city amenities, services and attractions — the real estate market alone will not decide.

Follow Jonathan O’Connell on Twitter: @oconnellpostbiz