Coronavirus hasn’t slowed D.C.-area development. Here’s a look at the largest projects pitched since the pandemic hit.

Posted by: mihaighimciuc 30 October 2020 No Comments

Greater Washington’s development pipeline was jam packed full of big, expensive projects before anyone had ever heard of the coronavirus. But would that enthusiasm endure through a nationwide economic slowdown?

Over the last six months or so, the answer to that question has proven to be a tentative “yes.” The pandemic has undoubtedly slowed

the pace of new development applications across the D.C. region, but it’s by no means halted it.

Despite dire warnings from some quarters that the spread of Covid-19 would mark the end of urban living or office work, developers have consistently pitched new apartment, office and retail construction since public health concerns began shuttering businesses in March. It helps that the construction industry has been one of the few to be allowed to continue with minimal changes across D.C., Maryland and Virginia.

There have been plenty of challenges, of course. In the early days of the pandemic, there was widespread confusion over how to move the development application and permitting process online. Developers were suddenly no longer able to meet in person with local government planners ahead of filing a big application — plus,

everything from local planning commissions to advisory neighborhood commissions pressed pause on their meetings indefinitely, jamming up the process of engaging with neighbors and local design experts.

But, like everyone else, people working in the world of D.C. development have learned to embrace video calls to keep the process moving. Some developers say they even prefer the chance to reach a wider audience by moving community meetings online.

Perhaps most importantly, there’s still broad confidence Greater Washington will remain a desirable place to live, work and shop when the projects getting proposed now come online in a few years. Financing is still a concern given the uncertainty in the capital markets — and affordable projects have especially large challenges to confront, as government subsidies dry up amid spending cuts — but the development community has proven to be confident enough in the future to keep the pipeline relatively full.

In gallery above, have a look at 10 of the largest, most ambitious projects proposed since the pandemic struck, illustrating what sort of developments are still desirable in a post-Covid world.