DC Development Report Methodology

The goal of the Washington, DC Economic Partnership is to maintain comprehensive database of development activity that helps us find answers to the following questions:

  • What is the make-up of development activity?
  • Where is the development activity occurring?
  • What are the trends?
  • How much is being invested in our community?

However, before we could begin to collect development information we had to create a methodology to give us guidance on what data to assemble on each project and which projects to include in our database. The following is a brief explanation of what types of data we try to obtain for each development and how we gather that information. While our database of projects is constantly being updated, for the purposes of the DC Development Report, all data reflects project status, design and information as of August (this is typically when we perform our “development census”).

Construction Type

  • New Construction
  • Renovation
  • New Construction & Renovation
  • Infrastructure (e.g. bridges, parks, parking garages)

The delivery date is an estimate of when a project is scheduled to be completed. For completed projects, this is generally the date that the first certificate of occupancy was issued for the project. If no certificate of occupancy was issued then we use the date supplied by a primary or secondary source.

Complex projects and mixed-use developments include a description that highlights key components and other points of interest about the development project.

Development Team

  • architects
  • developers
  • general contractors

The groundbreaking date is an estimate of when a project is scheduled to start. For projects that are under construction or completed the groundbreaking date can be the date of a groundbreaking event or the date that a building permit was issued on a project. When possible we try to record the date when construction starts on the site.

Hotel Rooms
For hotel projects, we track the number of new and renovated rooms. The number of rooms does not necessarily reflect net new rooms because it does not account for rooms taken out of the inventory. Information on net new rooms only reflect rooms taken out of the inventory based on redevelopment projects in the year those projects were completed

Many of the projects in our database include one or more photos, renderings, elevations or other illustrations. In most cases these images are provided by either a primary or secondary source or are photos taken by the WDCEP. In many cases renderings and illustrations are concepts and may not reflect the final design.

When possible we track the LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) certification level that has either been obtained or planned to achieve. The level listed may reflect the entire project or one component of a mixed-use or multi-phased project. The official LEED status can be found at www.usgbc.org.

Project Cost
We track total development costs including both hard and soft costs associated with a project as well as land costs. Whenever possible, we use actual costs provided by primary sources. Sometimes, however, it is necessary to estimate project costs based on historical information. Because of the tremendous amount of construction activity and staff resources required to maintain the data, we established a minimum threshold of $5 million to be included in the database (from 2001–8/2009 the minimum was $1 million).

Project Name
Project names are generally the name of the building or the development. However, when projects are referenced by different sources with different names, we use the most commonly referenced name of the project. When there is no name for the project, projects are referenced by address.

Residential Units
For residential projects, we track the number of units of both new construction and renovation. The number of new residential units does not necessarily reflect the net new units on the market because it does not account for units taken out of the inventory.

Square Feet
Whenever possible, we try to obtain the total square footage of the project. For mixed-use projects, we break out the square footage associated with each major use.

Each development project is tracked by status and defined by one of the following categories:

  • LONG TERM: Projects that are not expected to break ground for at least 36 months or longer. These projects are considered part of DC’s pipeline. Multi-phased projects maybe listed as Long Term even though initial phases plan to break ground within 36 months.
  • NEAR TERM: Projects that have the potential to break ground in the next 36 months. These projects are considered part of DC’s pipeline.
  • UNDER CONSTRUCTION: Projects are defined as under construction once a building permit has been issued on the project or a primary source has indicated that construction has begun.
  • COMPLETED: Projects are defined as completed once the first certificate of occupancy is issued on a project, except in the case of a multi-phase project, in which each phase of the project is tracked separately. If no certificate of occupancy was issued, then we use the date supplied by a primary or secondary source.

Each project is categorized by type of use. For mixed-use developments, we capture the square footage or units/rooms for each of the following:

  • Community (e.g. library, recreational center, fire station, place of worship)
  • Education (e.g. K–12, colleges, universities)
  • Entertainment (e.g. movie theaters, live performance venues)
  • Hotel
  • Industrial (e.g. industrial & warehouse)
  • Medical (e.g. hospitals, clinics)
  • Museum (e.g. museums & memorials)
  • Office
  • Residential
  • Retail

Where do we get our information?
To capture the most comprehensive inventory, we use a variety of sources to gather information about development activity, and whenever possible, we contact the developers directly to get the most up-to-date and accurate information available and do site location visits to verify the project’s status. Often our research uncovers discrepancies in available data on project information such as square footage, cost, number of units, etc. When this occurs, we try to reconcile the differences by speaking directly with parties involved in the development. Some of our sources include:

Primary Sources

  • Architects
  • Building Permit Data
  • Certificates of Occupancy
  • Developers
  • DC Office of Planning
  • DC Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning & Economic Development
  • DC Office of the Chief Financial Officer
  • General Contractors
  • Project Managers

Secondary Sources

  • Brokers
  • Business Improvement Districts (BIDs)
  • Main Streets
  • Media & Newspapers
  • Neighborhood Newsletters & Blogs

Adding or Updating Information

If you are looking for information about a specific project and you do not see it on our list, it may have been omitted for one of the following reasons.

  1. It did not meet the $5 million threshold. There is simply too much activity for us to keep accurate information about every improvement made in the District of Columbia. Therefore, we only collect data for projects valued over $5 million.
  2. We are missing a key piece of information. Generally we will include projects in our database even if we do not have a complete set of data available. However, some projects are omitted from our reports and analysis if they are missing key data that we use to query or analyze the database.
  3. We have questions about the validity of the data. We make every effort to acquire data from multiple and primary sources to validate our information. Frequently, we encounter discrepancies in project details. Whenever possible we try to reconcile those discrepancies. Sometimes, we are unable, and we may exclude the project because of an unresolved question about the data.
  4. We may not know about it. Although our data collection methods are comprehensive, we may miss projects. We discover new information almost every day, and we are constantly adding projects as we become aware of them.

If you have information about a development that you would like included in our database or if you have discovered errors in our data, please let us know. We rely on your feedback to keep our database accurate.

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