Central DC federal agencies. Back to the workers, statistics

Federal government agencies still generally allow employees to telecommute. That’s not good news for downtown DC businesses.

Federal government agencies still generally allow employees to telecommute. That’s not good news for downtown DC businesses.

“You have to understand how important this is because the federal government owns or leases a third of all office space in downtown DC,” said James Bailey, a professor at the George Washington University School of Business.

On average, only one in three federal government agencies has returned to the office, but it varies widely from agency to agency.

“Some agencies have 50% back. Some only have a 10% return. Some have not set any policies. I’ve talked to people who say when they walk in, there might be two other people there in their office space,” Bailey said.

He estimates that downtown DC is currently short of nearly 200,000 day office workers. It’s that many people don’t eat lunch, dry clean or meet colleagues for drinks after work.

DC’s daytime economy is more dependent on just one employer—the federal government—in DC’s case than any other major metro.

Bailey also said that not having so many workers downtown also has cultural implications, not just for museums, theaters and galleries, but for the vibe that downtown D.C. and any thriving downtown area has.

It’s also not good for the District’s sales tax revenue.

At Mayor Muriel Bowser’s swearing-in in early January, she called on the federal government to bring federal agency workers back to the office or consider allowing developers to convert its underutilized office space to residential use and bring more people in instead. just work downtown.

“He’s doing the right thing. He is trying to “morally convince” the government. That this hurts the downtown and that this affects the city and the city that we’ve worked to improve for 50 years,” Bailey said.

According to commercial real estate services firm JLL, there are at least 13 office buildings slated for office-to-residential conversion in DC this year. That’s about 2.9 million square feet that will be removed from aging office inventory.

District-wide office vacancy is now at 18.9%, the lowest in 40 years. Among Class B and C buildings suitable for residential conversion, the vacancy rate is 37%.

The Hill recently published an op-ed by Bailey on the need to bring workers back to downtown DC

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