Washington, DC, UNITED STATES
Farragut Park, Washington D.C.
Report Summary:

Like the rest of the United States, the District of Columbia has seen severe impacts on the hospitality, convention, and visitor sectors from the COVID-19 pandemic, evidenced in the deep declines in visitation, hotel occupancy, jobs, and tax revenues. Retail and entertainment businesses, including small businesses, have suffered devastating losses. Many private businesses and organizations are experiencing a preference for remote working during the pandemic. The combination of the pandemic, the loss of jobs, and the precipitous drop in economic activity have revealed and amplified existing underlying community stresses and racial inequities.

As everywhere, communities of color have shouldered a disproportionately heavy burden from these public health, economic, and environmental challenges as well as long-embedded discrimination and systemic biases. These communities remind us daily of longstanding discrimination and lack of access to the education, health care, jobs, homes, and opportunities that build assets and wealth. The following section identifies the key actions the panel recommends to catalyze recovery and generate a more diverse and resilient Downtown D.C. economy.

Nonetheless, downtown Washington, D.C., remains an extraordinary asset as an economic, cultural, and intellectual center of global significance. It hosts one of the world’s greatest collections of cultural institutions, top academic institutions and research centers, formal and informal parks, open spaces, and an expansive network of walkable streets and city blocks as laid out in 1791 by Pierre L’Enfant. It has also become a prime location for residential and mixed-use development.

Among the challenges and opportunities, the CBD faces as it works to recover from these multiple crises is the need to promote both its singular economic position, based on visitation, convening, and workplaces and small businesses, as well as the cultural and community assets that offer a more inclusive and distinctly Washington experience.

The immediate need is to advance the recovery of the business, tourist, and neighborhood activity as soon as possible while changing the role of the CBD over the longer term. This strategic thinking must address the disproportionate impact on communities of color and the need for new commitments to job creation and investments that advance essential goals of equity and social justice and aspire to create a broader and transformational downtown D.C. The outcome can be a more diverse downtown economy, one that is more adaptable and resilient and has a greater capacity to “bounce forward” from the impacts of the pandemic, the distressed economy, and the challenges of social injustice.


Report Summary: Like the rest of the United States, the District of Columbia has seen severe impacts on the hospitality, convention, and visitor sectors from the COVID-19 pandemic, evidenced in the deep declines in visitation, hotel occupancy, jobs, and tax revenues. Retail and entertainment businesses, including small businesses, have suffered devastating losses. Many private businesses and organizations are experiencing a preference for remote working during the pandemic. The combination of the pandemic, the loss of jobs, and the precipitous drop in economic activity have revealed and amplified existing underlying community stresses and racial inequities.

As everywhere, communities of color have shouldered a disproportionately heavy burden from these public health, economic, and environmental challenges as well as long-embedded discrimination and systemic biases. These communities remind us daily of longstanding discrimination and lack of access to the education, health care, jobs, homes, and opportunities that build assets and wealth. The following section identifies the key actions the panel recommends to catalyze recovery and generate a more diverse and resilient Downtown D.C. economy.

Nonetheless, downtown Washington, D.C., remains an extraordinary asset as an economic, cultural, and intellectual center of global significance. It hosts one of the world’s greatest collections of cultural institutions, top academic institutions and research centers, formal and informal parks, open spaces, and an expansive network of walkable streets and city blocks as laid out in 1791 by Pierre L’Enfant. It has also become a prime location for residential and mixed-use development.

Among the challenges and opportunities, the CBD faces as it works to recover from these multiple crises is the need to promote both its singular economic position, based on visitation, convening, and workplaces and small businesses, as well as the cultural and community assets that offer a more inclusive and distinctly Washington experience.

The immediate need is to advance the recovery of the business, tourist, and neighborhood activity as soon as possible while changing the role of the CBD over the longer term. This strategic thinking must address the disproportionate impact on communities of color and the need for new commitments to job creation and investments that advance essential goals of equity and social justice and aspire to create a broader and transformational downtown D.C. The outcome can be a more diverse downtown economy, one that is more adaptable and resilient and has a greater capacity to “bounce forward” from the impacts of the pandemic, the distressed economy, and the challenges of social injustice.


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