Highlighted today at the Washington DC Economic Partnership annual meeting were a substantial number of development projects that will fundamentally transform the previously ignored Potomac (and its tributaries) River frontage.
While other major cities within the country have had to put their development projects on hold because of the economic recession, the Greater Washington area is well ahead of most other metropolitan areas in the nation. WDCEP reports that the DC metro area has added 20,500 new payroll jobs during the 12 months ended August, 2010 and the unemployment rate has descended to a little over 6%, the envy of most urban areas.
From a real estate development perspective, the area retains one of the lowest vacancy rates in the country. That makes developers salivate over prospective new projects since the waterfront area on both sides of the River has been neglected for years.
Rosslyn, VA (with a low 4.9% vacancy rate) has already seen the renaissance with completed construction of the luxury condominium project Turnberry Tower and construction underway on two office/retail buildings nearby totaling over 1.5 million square feet and one of which (1812 N. Moore St.) will be tallest building in the area at 390’. Since it sits along the final approach landing patth for Reagan National Airport, top floor executives can wave to startled passengers as they fly by.
Not to be outdone, Washington, DC (with a 14.9% vacancy rate) has one waterfront project nearing completion with the Georgetown waterfront park finally underway. Coming through the pipeline though are exciting and massive redevelopment projects that will truly transform the nation’s Capitol.
The Southwest waterfront, now sprinkled with mostly ramshackle 1 and 2 story fish markets and restaurants will be developed into a pedestrian-friendly waterfront neighborhood, bringing the District to the water’s edge. It will contain 560 living units, a 600-room hotel, 840,000 sq. ft. of office space, 335,000 sq. ft. of retail space, a museum/ music hall, 400+ marina slips and 2,500 underground parking spaces.
Not to be outdone, the Forest City Development is underway with “The Yards” near the Navy Yard in Southeast Washington which will contain 1.8 million sq. ft. of office space, 2,800 residential units, 400,000 sq. ft. of retail space and a 5.4 acre park.
At the sold-out luncheon in DC’s new convention center, happy developers were everywhere with backslaps, handshakes and big broad smiles. Mayor Fenty was also on hand accepting the accolades for his efforts in promoting redevelopment of the city’s previously blighted areas. With $79 billion in development activity, the 80-page 2010-2011 Development Report unveiled at the luncheon is a tribute to tenacity and foresight.
The transformation of the National Capitol region’s riverfronts is already underway. You won’t recognize it in 5 years.