Blog Archives

D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue Delays Hotels and Motels Real Property Tax Payments for “First Half 2020” in Response to COVID-19

Similar to the rest of the District of Columbia government, the District’s Office of Tax and Revenue (OTR) has made changes and extended deadlines for certain real property and business sales and use tax filings this year. As a general matter, all OTR walk-in centers are closed and its building at 1101 4th Street SW is inaccessible. All staff are working remotely and taxpayers are encouraged to pay taxes either online or via mail. Also, Wells Fargo has closed many of its braches where real property taxes could have been paid in person.  There are two notable updates to D.C. Real Property payments as a result of the COVID-19 emergency affecting property owners. About The Author

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D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) Closes In-Person Permit and Licenses in response to COVID-19

Today, the District of Columbia announced that DCRA will close all of its in-person permit, license and other centers until at least April 27, 2020. Permits remain available online, and DCRA is offering “video consultations” for construction projects greater than 1,000 sq. ft. Importantly, construction can start or continue pursuant to a valid permit. DCRA inspectors are continuing to conduct on-site inspections for illegal construction. About The Author

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Status of D.C. Agencies Handling Commercial Real Estate Development Issues as of March 23

This post is part one in a series that will examine the effect of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak on the Washington, D.C. commercial real estate development community.  Whether you are in the middle of construction or at the beginning of project due diligence, COVID-19 will impact all agencies in the District. Indeed, with many District of Columbia agencies teleworking, covered by limited staff, or closed altogether, owners, landlords, and developers may feel that they are in unchartered waters as they work to navigate the regulatory, entitlement, and permitting process.   To help alleviate confusion and to identify which agencies are plugging along, and where backlogs may be created, below is a summary status of critical agencies in the District

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DC Office of Zoning Announces Six COVID-19 Changes to Business-As-Usual

The District of Columbia’s Office of Zoning (“OZ”)  – the independent agency that, among other tasks, accepts development applications to the District’s Zoning Commission (the “Commission”) and Board of Zoning Adjustment (the “BZA”) – remains open for business in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak, though all staff members are teleworking until at least April 27. The move to a remote work environment has resulted in the following important changes: All pending Commission and BZA hearings and decision dates have been suspended until at least April 27. Cases are being postponed in the order in which they were scheduled; e.g.,  a hearing scheduled for March 18 (the first hearing date after the suspension) will be heard on the first hearing

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Edits to the Comprehensive Plan Framework Element Released

Today (July 2nd), Chairman Mendelson released his proposed revisions to the Comprehensive Plan’s Framework Element, as we predicted last week.  A copy of the Chairman’s edits is located on his site HERE. The First Vote is scheduled for next Tuesday (July 9). We have not had much time to digest the substance, but our initial reactions are: The Chairman’s edits were made to the existing Framework element language.  These edits do not automatically incorporate the language the Office of Planning recommended in 2017-2018.   The Chairman’s edits include a new section on “PUDs”, but it is not certain whether this language will be sufficient break the log jam in the courts. The Chairman’s edits do appear to emphasize the provision

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The District’s Comprehensive Plan Amendment Process Is Starting Up Again: First Vote on July 9, 2019

The Comprehensive Plan amendment process is lurching back to life and the DC Council’s first vote is scheduled for July 9, 2019.  As we noted last month, the District of Columbia’s Office of Planning (“OP”) launched its DC2ME survey to solicit input on the ‘values’ that District residents want to be reflected in the amendment process. Also, OP had a presence at the recent Capital Pride parade and 11th Annual DC Housing Expo and Home Show to obtain additional feedback on the ‘values’. According to agency staff, further outreach is scheduled for this summer but specific times and locations have yet to be made public. This outreach broke a long period of dormancy since the 12+-hour District Council hearing in

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Top Four Value-Adds for Hotels in the District of Columbia

The District hotel market is hot. states that 9.58 million people in the U.S. visited Washington, DC overnight within a period of 12 months and that, in 2014, Union Station was the fourth most-visited tourist attraction in the world, with 32.9 million visitors.  Here are four areas where developers, asset managers or private equity funds can look within the hospitality industry and seek to deploy a high risk-return strategy by renovating and repositioning existing hotel assets: About The Author

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Into the Belly of the Beast

On the night of March 20th, 2018, I unwittingly walked into hostile territory – the DC Council chamber during the epic 13-hour public hearing on the proposed amendments to the Framework Element of the District’s Comprehensive Plan. Perhaps the Washington Post headline said it best: “Dry DC Planning Document Fuels Hot Debate”. While I was joined by many leaders of the development community, as highlighted in the Bisnow article dated March 20th, I think that all of us were surprised at the angry tenor of the opposition to the amendments.  Guy Durant, of the Durant case fame, went so far as to call us “devil-opers” with the emphasis on the “devil”.  And there were no punches pulled on the members

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Top Five Key Factors to Look at When Buying Property to Develop in Washington, DC

Thanks to the recent development boom, the District certainly has become hip.  It follows suit that many multi-family, condo and mixed-use developers are looking in the District for good buys to develop or to hold. These developers call us all the time to ask about properties.  We look forward to helping more, but to help short-circuit the process, here are five basic things you should know about the DC market before purchasing, investing or developing real estate.  We absolutely would advise that, before putting money down on a deal, you should: 1) take a quick look at the zone 2) confirm if the property is located in an historic district 3) confirm if the property may be covered by CFA

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Real Estate, Zoning & Land Use

Cozen O’Connor has represented residential, commercial, retail, and industrial builders in the development and redevelopment of building lots and millions of square feet of real estate. Our team handles every aspect of the zoning, land use, and development approvals process, from obtaining building permits and variances to negotiating stormwater management and traffic plans.

Head of the DC Zoning Group & Blog Editor