Diversity in Commercial Real Estate Takes Center Stage
In mid-November, the Diversity in Commercial Real Estate (DCRE) Virtual Summit brought together more than 450 attendees from across the Unit
ULI was asked by the Washington DC Economic Partnership and the District government to convene a virtual Advisory Services panel to provide strategic recommendations for ensuring the economic resilience of the District’s CBD, and that post-COVID recovery efforts in the CBD are equitable. The CBD encompasses Washington, D.C.’s downtown and the Golden Triangle district.
Date: November 17-19, 2020
Location: Washington, D.C.
Sponsor: Washington, D.C. Economic Partnership, Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED), DC Office of Planning
Subject Area: Economic Resilience, Recovery Planning
Panel Chair: Marilyn Jordan Taylor, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
Across the U.S., hospitality, convention and visitor sectors have been severely impacted by COVID-19. Washington, D.C. has seen a decline in visitation, hotel occupancy, and overall tax revenues. Retail and entertainment businesses have suffered similar retrenchment in the economic downturn. Since the beginning of the public health emergency, a combination of remote work and stalled business and leisure travel has meant DC area businesses lost significant portions of their customer base, resulting in widespread business closures and vacancies and exposing the core vulnerabilities of a CBD.
As a result of this decline, existing underlying community stresses and racial inequities have been amplified. Communities of color have shouldered a disproportionately high burden from these public health, economic, and environmental shocks to the system. And yet, Washington, D.C. remains an economic, cultural, and intellectual center of global significance.
The District of Columbia Office of Planning, DMPED, and the Washington, D.C. Economic Partnership asked the Advisory Services panel to evaluate the District’s CBD in order to provide actionable strategies for recovery and resilience for the District’s primary commercial district and employment hubs.
The panel was asked to consider specific issues and impacts of COVID-19 and make recommendations to optimize the mix and use of space in key employment centers aimed at minimizing vacancy, catalyzing vibrancy, bolstering tax base, and creating new opportunities for underserved entrepreneurs.
The panel identified that the District’s CBD is not one place, rather a series of places or “nodes” that can be reimagined and intentionally activated to spur economic resilience and support inclusive entrepreneurship. More broadly, the panel recommended that the District rethink the CBD and consider ways to attract a larger pool of business types, as well as consider the CBD as a place with a more distinct character.
The panel also recommended:
The panel was led by chair Marilyn Jordan Taylor of the University of Pennsylvania, and included panelists William Gilchrist, director of planning and building, City of Oakland, Oakland, CA; David Greensfelder, founder and managing principal, Greensfelder Real Estate Strategy, Albany, CA; Diane Gormely-Barnes, principal planner, HNTB Corporation, Chicago, IL; James Lima, president, James Lima Planning + Development, New York, NY; Julie O’Brochta, associate, SOM, Chicago, IL; Maggie Parker, managing partner, Innovan Neighborhoods, Dallas, TX. ULI staff Kelsey Steffen and Georgia Gempler supported the panel.
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