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Today’s Washington Post’s District Extra has a happy story about how developers are still forging ahead with projects, and “banking on D.C.,” as the headline states. It’s almost surreal to read considering what I’ve heard and seen in other publications. Here are few examples of why the optimism seems questionable:
The Post’s storysays:
Even with the economic downturn, dozens of developers showed off plans for projects this month at an annual showcase sponsored by the Washington, D.C., Economic Partnership.
With much fanfare and hyped prognostications, the D.C. Economic Partnership held its annual meeting at the convention center two weeks ago…More than a few of the real estate pros were thinking to themselves: What planet are these people living on? They knew that many of the projects in the “development showcase” were dead in the water because the money to finance them had dried up.
The Washington Post:
Neil O. Albert, deputy mayor for planning and economic development, says “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.’
The Washington Business Journal says:
At least 15 office buildings in D.C.’s prime corridors are under construction or renovation without a single tenant booked, according to Cushman & Wakefield’s second-quarter Development Pipeline report…It is unclear how many of those projects have financing — developers are reticent to discuss their financing publicly. Of course, that probably would not be the case if they had deals line up.
The Washington Post also cites the transformation of the Park Morton housing project as another example of forward momentum. In September, the District asked developers to submit proposals for building 500 units of housing along with a 10,000-square-foot park and community center.
Yet, I recently talked to a housing advocate who said that he just went with a woman to check out a new unit in Park Morton—-like to move into soon. So, if they’re still allowing new tenants in the project, when are they going to start kicking people out to rebuild?