(Washington, DC) – Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser nominated 25 census tracts to be Opportunity Zones as part of a new federal program that provides tax incentives for investments in new businesses and commercial projects in low-income communities – with nearly 75 percent of the tracts chosen in Wards 7 and 8.
“With feedback from our residents and stakeholders, we are moving forward with a program that offers another tool for us to drive investment in every corner of DC and put more Washingtonians on pathways to the middle class,” said Mayor Bowser. “As we begin the next steps, we will continue engaging residents to ensure the program is beneficial to residents and neighborhoods.”
The Opportunity Zones program was established by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 to encourage long-term investments in low-income urban and rural communities nationwide. The Opportunity Zones program provides a tax incentive for investors to re-invest their unrealized capital gains into Opportunity Funds. The incentive could help to promote investments in new public infrastructure, affordable housing, businesses or capital improvements. In the District, 97 census tracts meet the eligibility requirements, and the District can designate up to 25 for the program.
The census tracts nominated are:
- Ward 1: 3400 (Howard University, LeDroit Park, Pleasant Plains, Parkview)
- Ward 4: 10300 (Takoma), 2101 (Brightwood Park);
- Ward 5: 8904 (Carver, Langston); 9102 (Brentwood) and 9204 (Edgewood);
- Ward 6: 6400 (Buzzard Point)
- Ward 7: 7709 (Twining, Dupont Park), 9602 (Mayfair), 7803 (Central Northeast), 7804 (Lincoln Heights), 6804 (Hill East, Lincoln Park), 7808 (Northeast Boundary, Grant Park), 9601 (Kenilworth, Eastland Gardens), 7806 (Deanwood) and 9603 (Benning), 7604 (Hillcrest, Randle Highlands),7603 (Naylor Gardens, Fairfax Village);
- Ward 8: 10900 (Bellevue), 10400 (Congress Heights), 7601 (Fairlawn), 7407 (Fort Stanton), 7503 (Historic Anacostia), 7401 (Barry Farm, Poplar Point), 7304 (Congress Heights)
The tracts were selected with a focus on bringing new investment to communities most in need of jobs, commercial activity and amenities by leveraging actionable investment opportunities. As the program ends in 2026, census tracts with projects ready for investment were given greater consideration as the sooner funds can be deployed, the greater the value. The effort, led by the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, began by identifying areas that met the initial criteria (poverty level and family income) to determine eligible census tracts. Other key factors included unemployment, commercial land, small business opportunities, District development priorities, and public input.
The District conducted a public survey in partnership with the LAB @ DC, that allowed residents and other stakeholders to weigh in on Opportunity Zone priorities. The District identified three clusters of census tracts that reflected economic development priorities. Survey respondents ranked three clusters and provided feedback on census tracts they thought should be included. The three cluster respondents ranked included the following:
- East of the River: exhibited a higher than average need for investment/commercial and retail amenities.
- Retail Corridors: contained retail corridors and are distributed across the city; align with Great Streets program objectives.
- Creative Industries and Manufacturing: contained large amounts of industrial/commercial land; aligned with the Ward 5 Works study and efforts.
The results of the survey were 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. Additionally, the District sought feedback from the Advisory Neighborhood Commissions and the Council of the District of Columbia. The census tracts nominated included a number from the first option, elements from the other two, as well as a few that were suggested in written comments.
The U.S. Treasury Department must now certify the nominations. In the meantime, the District will begin engaging designated communities, as well as potential fund managers and project sponsors in order to ensure the program is leveraged to achieve our shared goals.
To learn more about the program, find the interactive map, and download census tract data, go to dmped.dc.gov.