Gray to target tech sector, job growth

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Photo - D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray (Examiner file photo)
D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray (Examiner file photo)
Local,DC,Liz Farmer

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray plans this week to lay out his five-year economic development plan for the city that will focus on targeting key sectors for job creation and new revenue growth for a city economy that has largely been dependent on the highs and lows of the federal government.

The announcement, which is planned for Wednesday at the under construction CityMarket at O Street, comes as District's financial planners have been bracing for the impact of planned federal spending cuts in January.

A source with knowledge of Gray's plan said the announcement would be held at the 1-million-square-foot O Street development in Northwest because it embodied key industries that the mayor hopes to target. The project by Roadside Development features retail, hospitality and mixed-income housing. It includes a restoration of the historic 1881 O Street Market in the Shaw neighborhood, will house a Giant Food store, a 182-room Cambria Suites and includes nearly 400 units of market rate rental housing, an 84-unit affordable senior housing building and a 145-unit condominium.

Gray also last week said during a television interview that he wants to expand the technology sector, an industry he has advocated for since he took office. In the past, Gray has said he hoped to develop the St. Elizabeths Hospital east campus as the tech hub of the city, and the District has also been in talks with Microsoft about opening an innovation center there.

At-large D.C. Councilman Michael Brown, who chairs the council committee on economic development and housing, said he has talked with the mayor about focusing more industries east of the Anacostia River, including technology and consulting.

One bonus that Brown said would help is to reduce the height restrictions in that part of the District.

"Obviously in the core part of city, that would never fly," he said, but added he has had "some discussions" with Gray and with congressional representatives about that. Earlier this year, city leaders testified before a congressional committee on the financial advantages of allowing taller buildings in some parts of the city. The city's height limit, which generally keeps buildings no taller than 130 feet tall, is governed by Congress.

The District also partnered with business schools from George Washington, Georgetown, Howard and American universities in developing the five-year plan.

lfarmer@washingtonexaminer.com

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