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Opportunity Zones in Washington, DC

Mayor Bowser Nominates Opportunity Zones in DC

Created in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, Opportunity Zones is a new federal program that provides tax incentives for investments in new businesses and commercial projects in low-income communities. On April 20, Mayor Bowser nominated 25 census tracts to be Opportunity Zones. The U.S. Department of Treasury certified these tracts on May 18, 2018.

  • View an interactive map of designated census tracts.
  • Download a pdf map of designated census tracts.
  • Download the excel spreadsheet of designated census tracts.

Updates
If you are interested in investing in or attracting investment to DC's Opportunity Zones, sign up here to receive updates.

Incentive Lookup Tool
Enter your address to see if you qualify for Opportunity Zones and other location-based incentives. To view all DC business incentives, visit incentives.dc.gov.


Overview of DC’s Nominated Opportunity Zones
These tracts demonstrate both robust need for investment (that can create commercial/retail activity and jobs) and significant investment opportunities, such as real estate projects and commercial corridors.

  • Average unemployment rate: 22.2%, compared to 18.7% for all eligible tracts and 17.4% for non-selected tracts
  • Average percentage of population below the poverty line: 32.2%, compared to 27.6% for all eligible tracts and 26.0% for non-selected tracts
  • 72.0% are located in Wards 7 or 8, compared to 49.5% of all eligible tracts and 42% of non-selected tracts
  • Average commercial density: 20.2%, compared to 16.3% of all eligible tracts and 15.0% of non-selected tracts.

 

How Tracts Were Selected
Our priority in selecting census tracts was to bring new investment to communities most in need of jobs, commercial activity and amenities by leveraging actionable investment opportunities. Our approach to identifying Opportunity Zones had several components, described below.

  1. First Step: Map Options

Determined eligibility: As a starting point, we mapped the statutory indicators (poverty and family income) to determine eligible census tracts. The District of Columbia has 97 eligible Census Tracts, based on the federal definition of low-income tract. While the program does allow for certain contiguous tracts to be designated if they meet certain requirements, we did not consider these tracts due to the number of eligible tracts and the need in those tracts.

Removed outliers: We removed clear outliers, such as Census Tracts that have an unusually high poverty rate due to the presence of universities. We also removed areas that have received a great deal of investment or are already higher-priced markets, such at Columbia Heights, Adams Morgan, and Logan Circle.

Identified options: We then layered on unemployment, commercial land, and District development priorities to ensure that selected tracts aligned with District priorities of reducing employment disparities and benefiting existing residents, and to estimate investment potential in each tract. From there we identified 18 census tracts that could potentially be good options for OZ designation because of their need for investment, absorption potential, and alignment with strategic priorities.

    2. Gather Public Input

Survey: In partnership with the LAB @ DC, we created a survey that offered a straightforward way for residents and other stakeholders to weigh in on Opportunity Zone priorities. To make it easy for people with limited familiarity with Census tracts to engage, we identified three clusters of Census tracts that reflected existing economic development priorities. Survey respondents could rank the three options and provide freeform feedback on the base 18 tracts or others.

  1. East of the River: exhibited a higher than average need for investment/commercial and retail amenities
  2. Retail Corridors: contained retail corridors and are distributed across the city; align with Great Streets program objectives.
  3. Creative Industries and Manufacturing: contained large amounts of industrial/commercial land; aligned with the Ward 5 Works study and efforts.

Results: 385 respondents ranked the options and 95 provided written comments. Of the three options, the East of the River option received the most support, with 202 respondents ranking it as number 1, with 103 ranking retail corridors as the top option and 87 choosing the manufacturing option.

ANC and Council Engagement: After the survey closed on March 12, we sought additional input from ANCs and Council Members until April 10. During that period we engaged via email, conference calls and an information session.

    3. Analyze Data

We then analyzed additional data: recent investments, investment absorption potential, socioeconomic changes, and other factors at the Census tract level. Other factors considered:

Complementary incentives and investment opportunities: We examined existing incentives that could be paired with Opportunity Zones -- such as DC’s Supermarket Tax Credit and the Great Streets grant program – that could complement Opportunity Zone investments to bring amenities needed by the community. We also examined the location of development projects and other actionable investment opportunities that could help produce needed amenities.

Levers: We also examined avenues for maximizing community benefits from Opportunity Zone investments, such as First Source and CBE requirements (via District projects) and the PUD process. The presence of a District development projects introduces many of these levers

    4. Determine DC’s 25 Opportunity Zone Tracts

Based on the feedback and analysis, we made the following adjustments to determine the final 25 tracts:

  • Prioritized tracts with the following characteristics:
    • located in Wards 7 and 8
    • has high need for employment
    • contains actionable investment opportunities that would bring desired amenities and jobs
    • contains concrete opportunities to maximize benefits for existing residents (through complementary incentives and projects)
    • has significant public support
  • Eliminated tracts already experiencing high commercial investment flows and socioeconomic changes, unless they contained significant opportunity to bring needed amenities and maximize benefits to existing residents.

 

Census Tract

Ward

Neighborhood

2101

4

Brightwood Park

3400

1

Howard University, LeDroit Park, Pleasant Plains, Park View

6400

6

Buzzard Point

6804

7

Hill East

7304

8

Congress Heights

7401

8

Barry Farm, Poplar Point

7407

8

Fort Stanton

7503

8

Historic Anacostia

7601

8

Fairlawn

7603

7

Naylor Gardens, Fairfax Village

7604

7

Hillcrest, Randle Highlands

7709

7

Twining, Dupont Park

7803

7

Central Northeast

7804

7

Lincoln Heights

7806

7

Deanwood

7808

7

Northeast Boundary, Grant Park

8904

5

Carver Langston

9102

5

Brentwood

9204

5

Edgewood

9601

7

Kenilworth, Eastland Gardens

9602

7

Mayfair, Parkside

9603

7

Benning

10300

4

Shepherd Park, Takoma

10400

8

Congress Heights

10900

8

Bellevue

 

Next Steps as of June 2018

To implement the Opportunity Zones program, the federal government must:

  • Release guidance on Qualified Opportunity Fund qualifications and the process for certification.
  • Implement the law either via proposed or interim rule making process.

Shortly after the zones were designated, the District began engaging designated communities, as well as potential fund managers and project sponsors, to ensure the program is leveraged to achieve our shared goals. DMPED encourages anyone interested in sharing or receiving Opportunity Zones information to sign up for updates or call 202-727-6365.


Resources on the Opportunity Zones Program

Enterprise: Opportunity Zones
CDFI Fund: Opportunity Zone Resources
Economic Innovation Group: Opportunity Zones
Opportunity Zones: Maximizing Return on Public Investment (Urban Institute)
Proposed Guiding Principles for Opportunity Zones to Fuel and Inclusive Economy and Drive Social Impact (Beeck Center at Georgetown University)