D.C. Real Estate Leader: Federal Stimulus Shortchanging District Was 'Shameful'
The $2 trillion stimulus bill Congress passed last month treated D.C. as a territory, giving it $750M less in funding than each of the 50 states, a decision one local business leader called "shameful."
Roadside Development founding principal Richard Lake, who also serves on the boards of the Federal City Council, D.C. Building Industry Association and the Washington D.C. Economic Partnership, said Tuesday on Bisnow's Virtual Town Hall webinar he does not approve of the federal government's handling of the crisis.
"Look at how Congress treated D.C.," Lake said. "It is shameful not to treat D.C. as a state and give it a full allotment when they have more population and economic activity than some of the states and they got shorted several hundred million. That's disgraceful. We as a region need to speak out."
Roadside is the developer behind City Ridge, the redevelopment of Fannie Mae's former headquarters that landed Wegmans as an anchor. It also built the City Market at O mixed-use project in Shaw. Lake not only criticized the federal government for its treatment of D.C., but also for its overall handling of the coronavirus crisis.
"I think the leadership of the federal government has been dismal," Lake said. "This is the worst I have seen in my entire life of a federal response to anything. It's scary. There is so much wasted energy around the lack of leadership, and there was so much waiting for that leadership to manifest itself, and I think we lost a lot of precious time waiting for it."
On the local level, Lake praised the leadership of Mayor Muriel Bowser, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam. The three each issued stay-at-home orders March 30 but allowed construction to continue.
After passing its first piece of emergency legislation March 17, the D.C. Council Tuesday held a virtual meeting and passed a second package of measures to address the crisis. The bill halts all rent increases until 30 days after the state of emergency ends, and it requires some mortgage companies to offer 90-day deferrals to property owners, WAMU reports.
Lake said he is part of a new group, led by Hoffman & Associates Chairman Monty Hoffman, called D.C. 2021. The group is made up of 100 real estate and business owners who aim to come up with ideas to address the crisis and present them to local government. He said he hopes to meet soon with D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson.
"I am very proud of our governors and our mayor," Lake said. "I think their leadership has been the difference of how D.C., Maryland and Virginia will survive this."