D.C. Nears Global-Class Status
The times they are a changing, Bob Dylan used to sing. He didn’t know the half of it when it comes to Washington, D.C.
When was the last time you heard the word “global power”? Concerning the United States of America, for sure. But for the District of Columbia? Not so much. But that’s one of the phrases that came up during the course of the Downtown Business Improvement District-sponsored State of Downtown Forum and Report, where listeners and participants, media and note-takers could look out a panoramic view of the city from the top of the Newseum that’s every bit as breath-taking as the one from offered by the top of the Pompidou Museum in Paris. We mention Paris because the French capital was one of the names mentioned by way of comparison, along with New York and London.
The forum panelists included Howard Riker, the managing director of Hines, the privately owned international real estate firm involved in many of the ongoing projects which are expected to make major impacts on the fast-changing downtown commercial, residential (as in condos) and cultural atmosphere ; Ginnie Cooper, chief librarian of the D.C. Public Library System, Gregory O’Dell, chief executive officer of Events, D.C., and Robert McCartney, the Washington Post columnist. Rich Bradley, president of the Downtown BID, moderated.
McCartney said that Washington was a world-class city, although not yet a “first-tier” city like Paris, London or New York. This could, of course, having something to do with size, even though the city is taking on new residents at an amazing rate, along with new developments, and projects, all changing the cityscape, especially downtown, which is practically unrecognizable from 20 years ago.
Ward 2 Councilman Jack Evans, who is said to be contemplating a mayoral run, reminded the audience just how much downtown had changed and why -- the why being mainly three then politically controversial projects which turned to be game changers. “The Verizon Center, the Washington Convention Center and the Washington Nationals baseball stadium all passed the city council by one vote,” said Evans, who reminded us that he was a key supporter of all three projects along with Mayor Anthony Williams and Linda Cropp.”
Now, It’s hard to imagine the city without those three elements.
(For more details on the State of Downtown report, visit www.DowntownDC.org.)