Living in DC 2020 Predictions

This is the second part of the 3 part series, covering the 2006 Washington Business Journal’s Predictions for 2020.

When this was published, I can remember sitting in my office, working for a national builder. I was blind to the fact that in a few months, the phones were going to stop ringing, all hell was going to break loose in the real estate industry and we were all about to be out of jobs.

I’ve held on to this for many years. It survived a move or two, but it didn’t survive Annie who chomped on the corner a few years back. If you want to see what life with Annie is like, check out the video.

This discussion is about Jobs & The Economy in the Washington DC Area.

WBJ Item #2 – Things Will Get Compact

Prediction: approvals will happen to develop close-in shopping centers, malls, industrial areas. Shopping centers from Bethesda & Chevy Chase up to Germantown and over in Silver Spring were mentioned as being old enough to warrant redevelopment.

Reality: Westwood I in Bethesda off River Rd is mentioned – I took my kids to MyGym there in 2015-2017 and this was always in the plan but it’s still there. Chevy Chase Lake Shopping Center though has indeed been leveled. Wildwood Shopping Center in Bethesda? Still there.

WBJ Item #1 – The Laws of the Land Will Change

Prediction: Because there is so little land to develop, development will go to new areas, and hopefully new heights as Developers push for a relaxation on DC’s height limit.

Reality: They rattled off a number of proposed and approved projects– some of which have occurred like the development in NoMa (“north of mass” they called it back then), residential by the stadium and Anacostia development to rival Georgetown. But some haven’t – like Burnham Place, which is still in the works and expected to be built in the air rights over the tracks going into Union Station. While we were preparing for this video, the first renderings for Burnham Place were presented in mid-June 2022, showing 12 buildings across the 15 acres over Union Station, but all of this happening is contingent on the redevelopment of Union Station.

What else has happened that was not mentioned in 2006 is the cutting up of houses into condos.

WBJ Item #5 – Washington will remain flat

Prediction: Developers will push to relax the height limit which is 160 feet max, with no building being 20 feet taller than the width of the street it faces.

Reality: The height limit prevails, thankfully. This isn’t NY, and we have a lot of history and architecture here to preserve. And thank goodness they didn’t build huge offices and condos because they would be empty now due to the pandemic.

WBJ Item #6 – Rosslyn Will be Cool

Prediction: Changes to the Rosslyn skyline with new high rises, this will no longer be Pittsburgh on the Potomac. (Their joke, not mine.)

Reality: This happened. They knocked down one of my family’s favorite restaurants for decades, the Orleans House. They had this amazing salad bar that was on a Mississippi Riverboat. I salivate over this salad bar for far too long in the video, and it’s set the bar for what I want in my salad bars for my life!

Rosslyn is a continued work in progress as they recently imploded the Holiday Inn and continue working on that corner to bring residential and retail there.

Also, it’s not Lee Highway anymore. It’s Langston Blvd, so take note!

Then, if you want to hear us go on about gondolas for way too long, check the video.

WBJ Item #11 – You Just Might Live Where You Work

Prediction: There would be many more employment centers around metro stations.

Reality: Well, this may have been the time to predict a pandemic because this became so true. But the 2006 prediction was based on development and people still venturing out of the home to work. Now, it seems like many people have been given permanent work from home orders.

WBJ Item #17 – You Can’t Grow Without Water

Prediction: The city’s waterfronts are going to be developed into attractions.

Reality – Indeed this is happening. There are water taxis that take passengers across the river back and forth to multiple locations. The SW Waterfront is the best example of a massive redevelopment.

WBJ Item #18 – Mall Rats Will Scurry

Prediction: Museums that no longer fit in the national mall will pop up in other areas of the city

Reality: Accurate. Remember the Newseum? Spy Museum, Holocaust Museum, they’ve all had to find locations elsewhere in the city.

WBJ Item #19 – Mall Debates Will Continue

Prediction: Necessary changes to the mall in terms of improving infrastructure – sidewalks, restrooms will occur.

Reality: If this is happening, it’s not readily evident but a longer, slower work in progress – which isn’t far from how our founding fathers approached the development of the mall. It took them decades to get it done. Can we get some women up in here?

That covers the density section of the WBJ Predictions. We are going to get to the last piece in this series next week – transportation.