Washington DC 2020

Many moons ago, in late 06, early 07, I can remember sitting in my office, working for a national builder, 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 had a copy of this, Washington Business Journal’s “2020 Vision” on my desk and started flipping through it.

WBJ featured 20 things that you could expect from the future for Washington DC.

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.

Let’s take a look at their predictions and see how close they came. We’re splitting this into 3 different videos because the topics fall into a few different categories.

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

WBJ Item #4 – Jobs and Population Will Continue to Boom

The prediction: DC will grow from 2006 by 1.1M people. In 2006, there were 4.3M people in the DC Metro area.

Reality: 2021’s population was just under 5.4M. THEY WERE RIGHT! And, I’m still here! I’ve added 2 little people to the population since 2006 but no one cares.

For Jobs, the prediction was that 800,000 jobs would be added by 2020.

Reality: Correcting for Covid, let’s slide by 2020 and look at 2021 numbers. In 2021, there were 3,351,273 jobs. In 2006: 2,993,600 jobs. It’s not quite the 800,000 jobs predicted. This came in just under half the prediction, with about 360,000 jobs. What they did predict accurately was the growth in some of the outer counties – Loudoun was projected to grow by 94% from 2005 to 2030. Now, this was of course pre-housing bubble so grow it did, then ungrow it did, but then a pandemic came and it started growing like mad again. So they were right in cases like this, but that was sheer luck. Right now Loudoun has grown over 58% since 2006.

WBJ Item #14 – Office Rents will hit $100

Well, that was some prediction.

Reality: In 2019, office rents climbed to about $70 a foot. But we all know what happened. Some sites report an overall average of $55, but the concessions given to tenants are also pretty steep. And the housing shortage has also put the spotlight on some of these offices – can they be converted to residential if the workers aren’t coming back? Time will tell but we are nowhere near $100 a foot.

WBJ Item # 15 – You’ll See Old People

Prediction: Boomers will be coming to the city.

Reality: Yes, there was a lot of news coverage that there were baby boomers selling their house in the burbs and moving to the city. But then we know what happened right? Covid. For the past couple years the city has been boomer-free. Okay, not really. But that exodus from the burbs to the cities turned right back around.

WBJ Item #16 – You’ll See Foreign People

Prediction: With as many as 1 in 3 people being foreign-born, we’ll have bilingual street signs and changes to house types to accommodate multi generations.

Reality: I don’t see any bilingual street signs, but changes to house types? That happened. Lots of first floor “owner’s suites” and elevator townhomes hit the market in the past decade.

WBJ Item #13 – You’ll Learn to Love Anacostia

Prediction: Anacostia will be DC’s next big thing. Think – Georgetown.

Reality: Yes, there has been a lot of development in Anacostia – entertainment and sports arena, the Arts Center, roller skating at the park. But that river still may as well be a mountain. People do not like crossing rivers here – Maryland to Virginia, DC to East of the River. I don’t know what it is, but people just don’t move from one area to another with ease if they have to get on a bridge.

Also, there’s about a dozen neighborhoods east of the river, but everyone just calls the whole thing: Anacostia.

They close by saying that it’s anyone’s guess. No one predicted Sept 11 or the dot com crash. Yes, and they were right. No one predicted a pandemic or Amazon adding their 2nd Headquarters to that beacon of 80’s excess and dreary architecture – Crystal City. But here we are, living the dream.

Next installment will be about Densification and what’s transpired with density and development.