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Downtown D.C. did not add “any new supply” of housing while demand for it continued to grow in 2016, according to the Downtown Business Improvement District’s latest State of Downtown report, out today.
Although the area saw new records across the retail, restaurant, and hotel sectors, the availability of apartments and condos remained tight, resulting in high prices. The average rent for luxury apartments within the BID’s boundaries saw a new record of $3.29 per square foot (or $2,300 for a 700-square-foot unit), which was 18 cents more than D.C.’s overall average and significantly more than in farther-out areas:
The vacancy rate for these apartments was a “very low” 2.9 percent in 2016, which is a full percentage point lower than it was in 2015, and about one percentage point lower than it is now in other D.C. submarkets:
As for condos downtown, resale prices set a record-high average of $643 per square foot (or $450,000 for a 700-square-foot unit), but remained below higher averages in Georgetown and near 14th/U streets:
Per the report, 2016 marked the second year in a row that “no new residential units” opened downtown.
“The only residential units slated for development at the end of 2016 were 150 apartments as part of the Capitol Crossing development over I-395, which is not scheduled to open until at least 2020,” the BID explains in its report. “However, planned redevelopments in DowntownDC could provide a potential opportunity for residential growth, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), and U.S. Labor Department headquarters buildings, which have not yet been formalized.”
Much has changed about downtown D.C. since the BID was established in 1997. In that year about 1,000 residents lived within the BID’s borders, as compared with more than 9,800 today. A proxy for that growth—and its limits—according to the report, is the fact that there were “111 surface parking lots and development sites” downtown in 1997, but merely 10 as of April. Over the next decade, the BID projects that employment could increase by between 20,000 and 40,000 new jobs downtown, in part because of the remaining sites waiting to be developed as well as new office space currently in the project pipeline.
In total, the BID says there are roughly 7,100 residential units and 188,000 jobs located downtown. The average household income there is $131,700, and 63 percent of residents make at least $75,000 a year. Almost four-fifths of the people who live there hold a bachelor’s degree or higher, and 35 percent of them are 30 or younger. The population is nearly equal in terms of gender, but more than three-fifths are white.
Meanwhile, 129 people were counted as homeless on the streets of the BID on a night in January, which represents about 40 percent of D.C.’s unsheltered-adult population, or about double the share just three years ago. (The homeless count fluctuates based on the season.) Last year, the BID piloted a weekly drop-in center for homeless youth at a downtown church. Additionally, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, which is located downtown and has long served as a gathering place for the District’s homeless, recently closed for a three-year renovation.
“A daytime services center in downtown would help provide support as well as shelter for individuals and ultimately decrease the number of homeless individuals in DowntownDC,” the BID says.
You can read the BID’s full report here.