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Developers, Officials On How And Where DC's Next Hot Corridor Will Emerge

Fifteen years ago, nobody would have considered H Street NE a hot corridor. But yesterday, as developers and government officials sat in the Atlas Performing Arts Center for Bisnow's Hottest Corridors event, they reflected on what has brought life back to H Street and other popular areas, including U Street, Shaw, Route 1, Rockville Pike and the R-B corridor, and how the magic can be replicated for DC's next frontier. 

Kevin Roberts Josh Phillips

The first step is to create an attraction. For H Street, it was Atlas' reopening in 2005 and bar/restaurants like Granville Moore, The Argonaut and the Rock and Roll Hotel bringing people in.

"It helps to have first movers," Jair Lynch Real Estate Partners VP of development Kevin Roberts, speaking next to Shaw restaurant owner Josh Phillips, said. "Something exotic, something interesting that draws people beyond the areas that they're normally used to." 

Ike Legget Rushern Baker Victor Hoskins

Once corridors are beginning to gain some popularity, local governments must be proactive in pushing them along to build momentum. Prince George's County executive Rushern Baker says his administration's $50M economic incentive fund has been key in revitalizing areas like Route 1. 

"What we’ve done differently is we have strategically and consistently gone after developments in areas that we think are hot, and we did it with purpose," Baker, center, next to Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett and Arlington economic development director Victor Hoskins, said. "When we put skin in the game on these developments, it showed people we were serious."

It's not just about investing in the developments themselves, but the infrastructure and transportation that allows corridors to thrive. Leggett said improving transportation is his top priority right now for fueling development on the Rockville Pike

"The question is one of timing," Leggett said. "Do you have the resources there in a time frame consistent with the pace of development? We are trying to ensure that those things are consistent, that we provide infrastructure not too far in advance, but not below the time frame that you expect."

Once people and businesses start coming to the area, and the infrastructure is in place, BIDs can be an important factor in pushing a corridor to the next level.

"It really gives people comfort," Kevin said "Having an organization to help support and bolster what's already economically viable gives it legs and keeps it going."

Nancy Hooof Rick Hausler

So we know how businesses, governments and organizations can make an area hot, but where are the next areas in DC that could use a push?

Insight Property Group's Rick Hausler, who just delivered the Apollo on H Street, points to E Street on Capitol Hill. Insight is working on a 141-unit luxury apartment building at 1339 E St SE.

"It has some of the same factors that have made H Street strong, which is the backup of a strong residential fabric," Rick said. "It also has what I call the geometry, which is a couple of megadevelopers called George Washington and his friend Pierre laid out some of these major boulevards. Those boulevards have continued, along with the fabric that was built around them, to support these great corridors."

Kevin Roberts Nancy Hooff

Somerset Development's Nancy Hooff looks at where the DC government is beginning to invest. She notes that it recently moved the Department of Housing and Community Development to Anacostia on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE.

"The city has been very strategic in placing some of their public buildings in the hopes of spurring economic development," Nancy said. "I think that public investment, that public foresight, will really help people take another look at Anacostia."

Nancy also emphasized building affordable housing and helping longtime residents stay in communities even when rents start to rise. 

"The trick will be to keep folks there," Nancy said. "Not to have it become a corridor so hot it scorches everybody over there, but that we can integrate and develop in a sustainable way."

Peter Caroccio David Dochter

Before the event, which drew nearly 200 industry professionals to the Atlas Center, attendees enjoyed a breakfast and networking session catered by Founding Farmers.

Here we snapped the moderators of the two panels, Cushman & Wakefield's Peter Caroccio and Dochter & Alexander Retail Advisors' principal Dave Dochter. Peter recently took over as Cushman & Wakfield's executive managing director of brokerage for the DC region, and Dave left C&W after 11 years to start his own firm, where he has brokered big deals such as bringing REI to the Uline Arena in NoMa