Foot traffic in D.C.’s downtown and Golden Triangle areas is better than it was in 2020 but it’s still far below pre-pandemic levels. City officials are now looking for ways to bring customers back to struggling retail businesses that depended heavily on office workers.
About one fifth of offices in the Central Business District in D.C. are vacant at the moment. That’s nearly double the 2019 level according to the nonprofit, Federal City Council.
Golden Triangle is a 44-square-block neighborhood that stretches from Dupont Circle to Pennsylvania Avenue.
The group sent a letter to the city’s Chief Financial Officer, Glen Lee, last week. In part, it read: “The pandemic and work from home have further eroded fundamentals and all indicators of the health of the District’s office market point increased systemic risk and distress.”
Federal City Council pointed to both private companies and the federal government pulling back leasing activity in the area.
D.C. Councilmembers Brooke Pinto and Christina Henderson are trying to put together tax incentives to boost people in the area.
The Rediscover Equitable Central Occupancy Vitality and Encourage Resilient Yield (RECOVERY) Amendment Act was introduced in 2021, but picked up steam last month with its first public hearing.
If passed, the bill would offer temporary tax relief to new businesses that relocate to the Central Business District.
It would also offer real property tax abatements to incentivize the converting office spaces into housing, retail or entertainment spaces.
Though the Federal City Council wrote they were happy elected leaders are taking action, conversion of office space is not the sole solution.
“Conversions are only viable once the original office value falls to levels that can be as little as half or less the historical value of a leased office building,” the letter said.