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The Washington Business Journal has an interesting article out today about Neil Albert, the deputy mayor for planning and economic development. In his 20 months in office, he’s initiated 15 developments and has selected companies to handle eight projects. The article essentially asks whether Albert’s pace will slow now that we’re in the middle of this credit crunch. Perhaps, the most interesting part of the piece comes toward the end when the author begins discussing what might happen if the developers reach out to the D.C. government for funds.
The city also must face the realities of a slowing economy. Its chief financial officer, Natwar Gandhi, has warned that D.C. is close to reaching his recommended cap for debt payments: about 12 percent of revenue committed to servicing bonds.
The council is considering a legislated cap on debt, but there is debate on whether the cap should include debt related to tax increment financing, an economic development tool the city uses often.
One of Albert’s predecessors, Merrick Malone, a principal of Metropolis Development Co. LLC, said he sees urgency on the city’s part to get things done but wonders if the money will be there.
“It is great to see them going out,” he said. “I think the challenge for these projects is a lot of them are going to require public money. The biggest issue is timing. With all these RFPs coming, the question is when is each project going to need it?”