The Washington Post

Twenty years of downtown D.C. development in one GIF

(Downtown D.C. Business Improvement District)

The latest State of Downtown report is out today from the Downtown D.C. Business Improvement District, and the state of downtown is — as has been the case for some years now — pretty darn good.

A softening office market has been offset by strong hotel performance, new retail growth and the ongoing transition of downtown from a 9-to-5 oriented hub of commerce to a 24-hour destination to live and play. But one of the most striking figures in the new report (which I was honored to discuss at a panel event hosted by the BID this morning) takes a longer view.

The GIF above shows the staggering disappearance of vacant buildings or surface parking lots from the downtown area since 1995, a visual representation of the city’s economic boom of the past two decades. The disappearance of the red splotches has meant the appearance of new buildings, jobs and residents that gave generated massive revenues for the city government.

Together with the neighboring Golden Triangle area, the Downtown D.C. BID estimates downtown now represents a net impact of $1 billion on the city’s yearly revenue — about one-sixth of the city’s entire local-funds budget. Expect that figure to go up as more of those red splotches disappear, such as the big one east of 3rd Street NW — the 2.2 million square foot Capitol Crossing project which will be built over Interstate 395 in the coming years by Property Group Partners.

(Downtown D.C. Business Improvement District)
(Downtown D.C. Business Improvement District)

While decrying the divide between “downtown and around town” has long been de rigueur for D.C. political candidates, the numbers are clear: A healthy downtown means more resources for the politicians to deploy in the rest of the District. The question is, will they do it wisely?

Mike DeBonis covers Congress and national politics for The Washington Post. He previously covered D.C. politics and government from 2007 to 2015.

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