Bowser: DC ready for an ‘economic comeback’

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser was all smiles at Wednesday’s “March Madness” event at the Washington Convention Center.

No, not that March Madness.

D.C.’s Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development held its own “March Madness” to highlight the District’s progress on housing goals, upcoming developments and support for small businesses.

Deputy Mayor John Falcicchio bumps elbows with William Liggins, director of the D.C. Revenue Bond Program. (Courtesy DMPED)

“In 2019, Mayor Bowser set the bold goal of creating 36,000 new housing units by 2025, 12,000 of them affordable,” Deputy Mayor John Falcicchio said. “We’ve made significant progress towards this goal.”

He said 14,613 new housing units have been delivered since January 2019, noting that D.C. has reached 40% of its goal. So far, 17% of its affordable housing goal has been reached in the same time period — 2,099 units.

And Office of Planning Director Andrew Trueblood said the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments has already approved a plan to expand on Bowser’s goals.

“We understand that housing is a regional issue as well,” Trueblood said. “Together, the housing agencies and the planning agencies recommended to the COG board, and the COG board approved, a new ambitious goal for the region of 75,000 more housing units by 2030, with 75% of them accessible in activity centers or near transit, and with at least 75% affordable to low- and middle-income households.”

One of the areas getting a fresh look is Friendship Heights.

“I’m excited to announce today that the Office of Planning along with the Washington Urban Land Institute, Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and WMATA have partnered to look at Friendship Heights, and determine how we can get more housing there,” Trueblood said. “We think there’s the possibility for thousands of more housing units, including a great deal more affordable housing.”

There are also efforts underway to revitalize parts of Southeast.

“This year will be a landmark year for Skyland,” Bowser said. “We’ll deliver The Crest, the first residential property to open at the site; we’ll break ground on new retail, including Lidl and Starbucks and more. And when I say more, I’m not exaggerating.”

Bowser said the Roaming Rooster will open its fourth D.C. location at Skyland. &Pizza will open its 10th. And Mezeh will open its second. A new South American street food spot, Maizal, is also on the way, as well as a new Tropical Smoothie location.

“And so I know it’s taking some time, but what we’re seeing at Skyland is a development that matches the vision of this community,” Bowser added. “There will be upwards of 450 new homes, a grocery store, and so many more amenities that equal jobs and jobs for D.C. residents.”

“Stay tuned, participate and be ready for economic comeback.”

The event also saw the relaunch of ExportDC, a program designed to help D.C. businesses go global.

“ExportDC will give D.C.-based businesses the opportunity to expand internationally and will provide assistance to support pre-approved international market activities and trade missions,” Director of Business Development and Strategy Sybongile Cook said.

“DMPED is allocating $7,500 towards a round of funding for these businesses. Ten businesses will be awarded and given the opportunity to attend the District’s virtual trade mission in Greece on May 19, 2021.”

Registration is currently open and will close on April 15 at 5 p.m. Interested businesses can apply online.

The recipients of D.C.’s Great Streets program were also announced, which granted $2.2 million to 50 local small businesses across all eight Wards. Up to $50,000 was awarded to each.

“Local businesses are the economic and cultural foundation of the District’s growth and vibrancy,” Bowser said. “The grantees represent a diverse group of businesses, and these grants represent an investment in their continued growth and our collective recovery.”

Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Editor and reporter for WTOP.com. He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

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