On February 24, 2020, the ULI Washington Young Leaders Group Real Estate 101 Committee hosted an event titled “Building Density and Navigating DC’s Approval Process: What DC developers need to know.” The discussion’s panelists, Sarah Alexander of Torti Gallas + Partners, Jessica Bloomfied of Holland and Knight, Caroline Kenney of Urban Atlantic, and LaToya Thomas of Brick & Story, all shared their unique experiences navigating Washington, DC’s development process.
Each panelist discussed the many obstacles architects, community stakeholders, developers, and lawyers face throughout the lifecycle of a project. In a highly politicized city such as DC, these obstacles can prove both timely and costly. Often these challenges push developers to alter their original plan to satisfy the numerous stakeholders in a development. The panelists noted that this often leads to a variety of community benefits, such as improved outdoor public space or even computers donated to a nearby school. While these contributions are impactful at a neighborhood level, the speakers praised DC’s citywide effort of adding 36,000 new residential units by 2025 with at least 12,000 units set aside as affordable. The four distinguished panelists shared an appreciation for the challenging nature of DC’s development process and how through conversation, dedication, and teamwork their work can have a positive impact on DC’s built environment.