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D.C.-area officials identify spots for businesses, new homes

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Local,Transportation,Liz Essley

Local leaders on Wednesday are expected to approve a list of 136 places in the Washington region that are best suited to handle the millions of new residents who will move here in coming decades.

The 136 "regional activity centers" are places where new buildings, housing and transit options are likely to be concentrated and places where local officials should encourage new businesses and residents to locate, according to the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. (See the complete list of 136 locations in the embedded document below this story.) The group expects an additional 1.6 million people to move to the region by 2040.

"We believe these local activity centers are essentially a competitive advantage for our region," said Paul DesJardin, the council of governments' planning director. "These are places where all of our local governments should be encouraging businesses to locate. They're either planned for or already well-served by infrastructure."

The list includes obvious choices -- hubs like Tysons Corner and Dupont Circle -- and some lesser-known areas, such as Manassas Regional Airport. All of them have already been selected by local governments as places to concentrate new businesses and buildings, DesJardin said.

The George Mason University Center for Regional Analysis expects the Washington region to attract 1 million new jobs over the next 20 years, and figuring out where those companies and businesses should be located is helpful, said researcher Lisa Sturtevant.

"If [firms] see there is a plan for concentrating economic activity and people and amenities, you can see it might entice a firm to locate in a particular place," she said.

The council of governments has fallen short in previous attempts to concentrate new development in its activity centers. The special areas had only 46 percent of new commercial construction and 31 percent of new household growth in the area in 2010, the most recent report shows, falling short of the council's goals of gathering 75 percent of new commercial construction and 50 percent of new households in the activity centers.

DesJardin said the council of governments will devise a plan for preparing the 136 places for growth later this year.

lessley@washingtonexaminer.com

Pgs6-7-8-ActivityCenters by Jennifer Peebles

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