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Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development

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Revitalizing Downtown - Current Actions and Initiatives 

Revitalizing Downtown is a key component of the District's Comeback Plan. The Comeback Plan outlines a three-pronged approach to Downtown revitalization: Fill the Space, Change the Space, Bring the People. Filling the Space means attracting new or returning commercial occupants from priority industries and embracing new workspaces that accommodate new working paradigms. Changing the Space means converting existing commercial office space for other uses including residential, retail and amenity space. Bringing the People means increasing foot traffic and vibrancy to reactivate street life and retail sales; creating programming to bring back activity throughout the week. 

Learn more about key downtown facts and trends to learn why downtown matters here:
Downtown DC Comeback One-Pager 
Downtown Key Facts and Trends 

Below is a list of downtown initiatives across multiple agencies with this framing. This page will be updated with Downtown data insights and analysis as well as key actions and opportunities from District agencies that advance Downtown’s reimagination.

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Downtown Reimagination Action Plan 

Description: The purpose of the Reimagine Downtown Action Plan will be to create a set of targeted initiatives that can represent a detailed roadmap for downtown reimagination. This will be completed through targeted expert analysis and stakeholder engagements activities. This Action Agenda will be led by the DowntownDC and Golden Triangle Business Improvement District, project managed by Trueblood City and partners. 

Vitality Fund  

Description: The Vitality Fund is a tool that will enhance DC’s competitiveness in attracting new, high-growth companies to the District by providing grants to employers with 25 or more employees that commit to locating in the District of Columbia, with a preference in the Vitality Fund Target Area, and commit to hiring and contracting locally.   

Penn West Equity and Innovation District  

Description: In May 2022, DC made a $2 million investment to support the development of the Penn West Equity and Innovation District (“Penn West”) led by the Golden Triangle Business Improvement District (BID) in partnership with George Washington University. The vision is for Penn West to become the world’s destination for uniting digital technology with public policy, equity, and social impact. The Penn West District will build off the existing presence of four key tech sectors in medtech, govtech, fintech, and edtech while focusing on the broader themes of social innovation and digital engagement. 

Creative and Open Space Modernization  

Description: The purpose of the Creative and Open Space Modernization Tax Rebate is to foster the development of technology-focused businesses in the District, increase the District’s tax base, and create new job opportunities for District residents.  

Downtown Retail Grants (New in FY24)  

Description: To support our retail corridors this year, the Council’s FY 2024 budget invests $3.2 million and 1 Full-Time Employee (FTE) for retail support grants issued by the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development. The subtitle also establishes a new Retail Recovery grant program for FY 2024 to support businesses located in the Downtown Business Improvement District and the Golden Triangle Business Improvement District that are opening or expanding into a retail or commercial space that has been vacant for at least six months. Finally, the subtitle updates the business location of a current grantee.
Link: Forthcoming 


Housing in Downtown (HID) 

Description: Housing in Downtown (“HID”) is a competitive program aimed at catalyzing new residential development downtown via a 20-year tax abatement. The program will be available for change-of-use projects that result in at least ten residential units and includes provisions for affordable housing. The HID program will be funded at the onset of the 2024 fiscal year. 


Downtown Public Realm Plan  

Description: The Office of Planning will develop a Downtown Public Realm Plan focused on Downtown’s major public spaces and adjacent streets, alleyways, and sidewalks that will identify and prioritize targeted urban design and public space improvements that can transform valuable outdoor space into a vibrant, safe, and active public realm to welcome new residents, visitors and support the ongoing economic recovery of Downtown.  The Plan will identify short-term public space activations as well as medium and long-term urban design infrastructure improvements, including recommendations for which streets should be closed or repurposed.  


Pennsylvania Avenue Initiative  

Description: DC has been working with the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC), Events DC, and the Downtown DC BID to develop a collaboration framework for the transformation of Pennsylvania Avenue. This group will collaborate to develop the New Pennsylvania Avenue Plan, which includes a (1) public space plan, which is a physical plan to guide infrastructure, roadway, security, and public space improvements; and (2) an implementation program, a recommended framework that will address administration, operations, maintenance, and programming.  


Engine 3 Request for Proposals (RFP) 

Description: Engine Company 3 is a 13,800 sq ft lot in the Downtown East neighborhood. The site is located at Lot 0831 and Lot 0833 Square 0630 on the corner of New Jersey Ave, NW and E Street, NW It is within walking distance of Union Station Metrorail station and multiple bus stops. The two municipal uses on Lot 833 Engine Company 3 and the DC Fire and EMS Museum, will remain on site Redevelopment proposals must incorporate preservation of the historic fire station building. The site is a rare opportunity in the heart of downtown near the Capitol and Union Station.
Link: Forthcoming 


Pennsylvania Avenue West Streetscape Project 

Description: Led by the District Department of Transportation (DDOT), the Pennsylvania Avenue West streetscape project (Penn Ave West) seeks to improve travel for pedestrian, bicycle and vehicular traffic along this iconic corridor in the western portion of downtown DC. 

Tourism Recovery District  

Description: DC Council recently enacted a change that will increase the sales tax directed to Destination DC (DDC), referred to as the Tourism Recovery District tax, from its current rate of 0.3% to 1.3% during the period of April 1, 2023 – March 31, 2027. The revenue will be transferred to Destination DC for the purposes of marketing and promoting DC as a tourist destination.   


Bus Priority Project 

Description: The bus priority network provides vital connections to jobs, schools, healthcare, and other destinations. While most buses in the District are operated by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) constructs and maintains infrastructure on the street, such as bus lanes, bus stops, and traffic signals. By improving bus service, DDOT is improving mobility and access to opportunities for District residents, workers, and visitors. 


DC Family Fun Destinations 

Description: Funds will be used to create or enhance attractions in the District, with a strong focus on the Downtown and adjacent areas. This competitive grant program will aid in increasing the amount of attractions and events for families in the District, increasing foot traffic to Downtown and adjacent areas.   


Special Events Relief Fund 

Description: The Special Event Fee Relief Fund provides financial support to events that celebrate the culture of the District of Columbia and support local communities by covering the cost of approved District government services for the event.     


Streets for People   

Description: The Office of Planning provides grant funding to Business and Community Improvement Districts (BIDs and CIDs) for creative and innovative public space activations in Downtown and nearby areas.  Through the Streets for the People grant program, the District seeks to expand the utilization of sidewalks, alleys, curbside space, parking, and travel lanes to create vibrant public spaces that will support economic recovery, re-envision public space activation, promote equity, leverage the work of local artists, cultural organizations and businesses (particularly those that focus on Black, Indigenous and People of Color communities), celebrate DC’s vibrant culture, and attract more residents, workers and visitors to central Washington.