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Delayed Transitway, Ax-Throwing And A Plan For 15,000 Residents: The Latest In Downtown D.C.

A view of D.C.'s central business district from the rooftop of 1333 New Hampshire Ave. NW.

1. On Tuesday, the D.C. Council passed the first vote for the city's $19.7B fiscal year 2024 budget after a process that has been described as "one of the most arduous in recent history." The budget, which still needs a second vote and the mayor's signature, includes an increase in the city’s tax abatement for office-to-residential conversions in 2028. The council also announced it was delaying the proposed $116M overhaul of the K Street corridor. The real estate industry successfully lobbied to remove the bike lanes from the K Street Transitway design last month, but after bicycling advocates and council members decried the late-stage change, the council decided to push the plan to allow for further study. 

2. Prior to the council vote, the Washington Post editorial board penned an opinion piece calling for the D.C. Council to prioritize the K Street Transitway project and not put it off until next year. The board said plans for the project have long been delayed, writing, “It’s time for the District to exploit the grandeur of its broad byways. K Street has long served as a passing-through point for motorists riding to and from Virginia and for office workers walking to and from their medical appointments. How about a K Street worth slowing down for?”

3. In February, Bisnow spoke with local entrepreneur Anna Valero, co-lead at D.C.-based Pirate Ventures, which operates two ax-throwing venues called Kraken Axes, a newly opened pickleball venue named Kraken Kourts, a café in Franklin Park and an events venue at 918 F St. NW. Valero discussed her plans to expand her business and transform Downtown D.C. through her entertainment-focused venues. 

A rendering of Skanska's 17xM office building in Downtown D.C.

4. Skanska landed another office tenant last month at its 17xM development in Downtown D.C., one of the only new office buildings under construction in the District. The developer signed UBS to a 12-year, 24K SF lease at the building, which is slated to deliver in the second quarter of 2024. The Swiss banking firm will join law firm Gibson Dunn, which signed a 164K SF pre-lease in October 2021 that helped kick off construction on the project. 

5. Mayor Muriel Bowser and other current and former city officials have called for changes to the Height of Buildings Act, a 113-year-old federal law that set the maximum allowable height at 130 feet for most of D.C. A financial analysis conducted by the DowntownDC BID found that adding three stories to this maximum would allow the city to convert millions of square feet of obsolete office space and potentially avoid an economic crisis. 

6. In January, Bowser released her plan to add 7M SF of net new residential space to Downtown D.C. This was part of her five-year economic development plan, which estimated that 92% of Downtown D.C. is commercial space and about 8% is residential. The plan called for an initial increase of 15,000 residents by 2028 and the eventual creation of space for 87,000 new residents to achieve the ideal residential-to-commercial ratio.