Washington DC: Best US Investment Destination for 2009
March 16, 2009
Washington DC and its metropolitan area have recently attracted quite a lot of attention. For one, the city was just named the top investment destination according to a 2009 survey of the world's top foreign real estate investors.
Secondly, the area is home to some of the nation's fastest growing and wealthiest counties like Loudoun County, Virginia which has grown faster than all but 4 counties and has the nation's highest median household income. Fairfax county, the metro area's most populous place ranked as the nation's second wealthiest county and nearby Howard county, MD grabbed the #3 spot.
Lastly, the DC area has been recognized for its robust and increasingly diversified economy, which held up quite well in spite of recent economic turbulence. Here, unemployment is around 4%--well below the national average.
With so much to offer, there's no wonder why DC has become the new place to be. Its proximity to Virgina, consistently listed as Forbes' most business-friendly state in the US, makes the metro area an attractive place to do business. But businesses want prestige and access to lawmakers, media groups, universities, lobbyists, and legal groups. Thus the central core of DC has become one of the hottest real estate markets in the world.
Within the past decade, DC's development has been explosive, but it's not nearly over. The city has begun one of the largest waterfront projects in US history. The project calls for developing thousands of acres of the underused property along the Washington Channel and Anacostia River. Ambitious revitalization plans for neighborhoods close to the central business district are already underway and have quickly attracted a host of investor interest.
1. H Street, NE (Atlas District):
This strip is the bustling heart of Washington's re-emerging East End. Located within walking distance of busy Union Station, affluent Capitol Hill, Gallaudet University, and the new NoMa business district, H Street is a busy thoroughfare teeming with artists, small businesses, and growing investor interest.
Within the past few years, the area has welcomed the reopening of the Atlas theater, H Street Playhouse, and has welcomed new bars, cafes, clubs, retail, and luxury condominiums such as the one in which former mayor Tony Williams resides.
What makes the area a perfect up and coming neighborhood for your investment is the wide availability of profitable opportunities. Commercial space and housing prices here are far cheaper than in other neighborhoods in Washington, at least for now. The city is moving fast on a plan to bring a street car line as well as other developments.
2. New Near Southeast (Capitol Riverfront District):
At the epicenter of Washington's master-planned waterfront community is Near Southeast. It's hard to believe that in less than 5 years, it was an under-used, blighted semi-industrial area.
Located south of the capitol and wedged between I-395, the Washington Navy Yard, and the Anacostia river, Near Southeast is an emerging community with a lot to offer. In just two years, the neighborhood welcomed new hotels, office buildings, including the US Dept. of Transportation's headquarters, the Washington Nationals' brand new ball park. Along with the additional thousands of new residents, Near Southeast has become a busy and vibrant area.
Future plans for the area include several major mixed retail, office, and housing communities, a revitalized waterfront park, and a possible light rail route.
Further information: www.capitolriverfront.org
3. NoMa (North of Massachusetts Ave):
The area north and east of the capitol and Union Station has been fully transformed into a huge office park with a new Metro station, cheaper office rents than downtown, but proximity to Capitol Hill. With neighbors like CNN, CSPAN, XM Satellite Radio, and the future home of NPR, NoMa is becoming Washington's own media mecca.
Several projects are underway that will bring new office space, housing units, hotels, and retail by 2010. One of the largest projects in the planning stage includes the redevelopment of the city's largest wholesale and farmer's market.
4. Mt. Vernon Triangle (Convention Center East):
Bounded by the convention center to the west, Verizon Center (local professional sports) and Chinatown to the South, NoMa and I-395 to the East, Mt. Vernon Triangle is all about proximity. The area was created from former parking, used car, and vacant lots into a largely residential area. Several condominiums and a new Safeway grocery store have already opened, but so much more is to come. Once complete, thousands of new residents, mainly young professionals and students will inhabit the area, bringing with them a demand for more retail, restaurants, and entertainment.
5. Hill East (Stadium-Armory Area):
Wedged between Capitol Hill and the Anacostia River, Hill East is on its way to becoming one of the hottest places in town. Minutes from downtown, the neighborhood is home to RFK stadium, the DC Armory, and Stadium Armory Metro.
Hill East is home to a planned mixed use waterfront community on the 67-acre campus of a former hospital. Plans call for a new waterfront park, offices, town homes, and retail. Meanwhile, investors can get in on the expanding demand for multi-family units.
6. St. Elizabeth's/Poplar Point:
The area includes Poplar Point, an underutilized waterfront park and the 300+ acre campus of one of America's most famous mental asylums--St. Elizabeth's. The project began with the redevelopment of the larger neighborhood in order to bring a new metro center at Congress Heights, a new shopping center, and new home communities.
Now the Dept. of Homeland security will bring its headquarters and thousands of employees to the St. Elizabeth's campus. The master plan calls for development of remaining land, affording newcomers breathtaking views of the Anacostia River and downtown.
Unfortunately, funding has slowed the Poplar Point project, which city officials had hoped would attract a new soccer-specific stadium for the DC United. Officials aren't expecting any major changes to the site until after 2010.
7. New York Avenue East (Brentwood, Landgon & Ivy City):
Nearly 55,000 vehicles use New York Avenue each day making it one of Washington's busiest thoroughfares. Commuters, visitors, travelers, and truckers pass by the area giving you access to a large potential consumer market
For years, the area has been home to the headquarters of BET (Black Entertainment Television) and Washington Times, but now it's attracted a slew of new neighbors. Within the last 5 years, the it has welcomed the city's only Home Depot, as well as new hotels such as a Fairfield Inn.
A number of new projects are scheduled for this area just East of NoMa, South of Rhode Island Avenue Metro station, and West of the National Arboretum including: re-development of the old Hecht's building, one of the city's finest examples of Art Deco, a new Arbor Square mixed-use project, and the revitalization of adjacent semi-industrial streets.
8. Petworth, NW:
Already one of DC's densest and most diverse places, new projects have been launched to revitalize the main thoroughfares of Georgia Avenue NW. The area is increasingly host to multi-family unit investment projects. Located in an area bounded by Howard University to the South, Walter Reed Army Medical Center to the North and four major hospitals to the East, this area is one of DC's most popular up and coming neighborhoods.
Petworth is in the heart of two major redevelopment projects--McMillan Reservoir and the campus of Armed Force Retirement Home. Both areas will host new mixed-use areas with thousands of housing units, office space, and retail.
9. Southwest Waterfront:
Originally redeveloped in the 1960s, the city has once again decided to improve its first waterfront community. Located south of I-395 and north of Fort McNair and the National War College, this neighborhood is overlooked and underdeveloped, giving you great investment opportunities.
You'll enjoy the excellent skyline views, the proximity to Reagan National Airport, Downtown, East Potomac Park golf course, and the New Nationals' stadium.
SW Waterfront is already home to the city's open-air seafood market, one of the city's favorite seafood restaurants, the new 5-star Mandarin Oriental hotel, as well as a handful of clubs and shops. As part of the city's massive waterfront project, it will soon undergo drastic change. Plans call for a revitalized Waterside Mall, a new waterfront promenade, an aquarium, new hotels, shops, housing, and office space.
10. 14th Street/Columbia Heights, NW:
In just 2 years, Columbia Heights quickly became one of DC's most sought after neighborhoods. Long home to the city's largest El Salvadoran communities, the largest Ethiopian Community outside of Ethiopia, as well as an increasingly young, professional class.
Recent developments brought many new cafes, restaurants, and retail. In 2007, the area welcomed the city's first Target store and other large retailers. Since then, several condominium projects have been built but trends show that future development will mainly stem from refitting homes into multi-family units.
Photos Courtesy of DC.gov
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