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Mayor Bowser Launches Housing in Downtown Program

Monday, March 11, 2024
Housing in Downtown Program Expected to Support District in Reaching 90% of the Goal to Add 15,000 Residents Downtown by 2028

(Washington, DC) – Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser and the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) launched the District’s Housing in Downtown Program. After touring the nearly completed Elle apartments, the first major office-to-residential conversion in DC’s Golden Triangle Business Improvement District (BID), the Mayor announced that the Preliminary Request for Application (RFA) for the Housing in Downtown Program is now live on the DMPED website. Housing in Downtown is an innovative program designed to catalyze new residential development and add thousands of new residents downtown through a 20-year tax abatement.

“We have seen in other parts of our city how having the right balance of residents and workers can sustain a vibrant and thriving neighborhood. We have a beautiful Downtown that is already bustling with people and activity, and the Housing in Downtown program will allow us to build on that in a very strategic way,” said Mayor Bowser. “Innovative projects like the Elle have already made DC a national leader in office-to-residential conversions, and now we can bring in even more partners to reach our goals and continue the transformation of Downtown.”

The submission window for applications will open on Friday, March 22 and applications will be considered on a rolling basis. The Housing in Downtown program was included in Mayor Bowser’s Fiscal Year 2024 Budget and additional technical amendments were adopted through emergency legislation in January 2024 to allow for the effective administration of the program. The program is competitive due to program caps. In total the program is capped at $41 million. From FY24-FY26, $2.5 million will be available to projects, increasing to a total of $6.8 million in FY27, and then to $41 million in FY28.

The Elle apartments, which broke ground in 2022 on the site of the former Peace Corps headquarters at 20th and L Streets NW, will feature 163 residential units across 185,000 square feet in the heart of Downtown DC. The development firm Willco is leading the redevelopment project.

“Going into this, we were excited about how we could adapt the building for the future of downtown,” said Gary Cohen, Chairman and President of Willco. “The Elle apartments will offer ample amenities for residents, including a community room, fitness center, dog park, and rooftop pool.”

The Downtown Action Plan, recently released by the Golden Triangle and DowntownDC BIDs, recommends many innovative solutions for reimagining the future of Downtown, including office to residential conversions. That plan not only recommends growing the residential base, but also proposes ideas like creating cultural and entertainment corridors, expanding university uses, and developing a large tech hub. In Downtown DC, there are currently five office-to-residential conversion projects under construction, and another 11 in the pipeline. The Washington, DC Metro Region leads the nation in office-to-residential conversions (Source: RentCafe).  

“It’s exciting to see all the ways downtown is changing and to help shepherd this transformation,” said Leona Agouridis, President of the Golden Triangle BID. “People approach work and life differently now. We are embracing this change and working to elevate the experience everyone can have in the Golden Triangle.”

Mayor Bowser released the Comeback Plan, the District’s five-year economic strategy in January 2023. The plan focuses on retaining and growing DC’s tax base, supporting business vitality, strengthening neighborhoods, and supporting economic mobility of DC residents. One of the plan’s six goals is to add 15,000 new residents Downtown by 2028. 

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