WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — Mayor Muriel Bowser wants to draw more people back to downtown D.C.
Bowser announced on Wednesday the beginning of an economic development strategy to fill vacant office space with new housing and other development.
Bowser said the Downtown Action Plan is part of her so-called “DC’s Comeback Plan” which seeks to lure 15,000 people and 35,000 jobs to the District.
The Bowser administration said it will continue to seek public feedback.
“We, of course, are looking for big ideas and specific ideas,” Bowser said at a news conference.
“I’m excited about what’s ahead. I see opportunities,” she added. “I know we have the talent and the initiatives and the will to make sure that we are bringing our streets, our offices, our hotels, and our restaurants to life.”
Downtown D.C. is largely made up of office space and the effects of the vacancies are seen with for-lease or rent signs on nearly every block.
“There certainly are challenges,” said City Councilman Kenyan McDuffie, who joined the mayor at the event. “The federal public health emergency is over, we’re starting to see more people come downtown and so, I can’t help but be optimistic.”
The Bowser administration is awarding a $200,000 grant to the Downtown DC Business Improvement District to work with other non-profit groups to come up with a plan to not just fill the current space but reimagine it.
One group that will be working to help the city is a group called the Federal City Council, an economic group that is led by former DC Mayor Anthony Williams.
“If you have a building that’s empty, everybody understands that building needs to change,” said Leona Agourdis, the president and CEO of the Golden Triangle, a non-profit group helping in the effort. “That is what’s going to happen. It’s going to happen whether you have a strategy, and a plan for it, and it’s going to happen if you don’t.”