As his only tenant was moving out the other day, Anthony Lanier walked through his glass office tower in downtown Washington, all too aware of the looming financial danger he faces. Mortgage payments of about $1 million a month. A $3 million annual property tax bill. And, beginning in March, no rental income.
In September, Lanier installed on the outside of his building near the White House a promotional splash worthy of Times Square: a 13-story-high, bright greenish-yellow sign offering discounted rent, “move in ready” offices, and the almost unheard-of option of “month-to-month” leases.
As the third anniversary of the pandemic approaches, downtown Washington is a wounded rendition of its once robust self. Even as more of the workforce shows up daily, many streets at the city’s core are pocked by vacant storefronts, moribund sidewalks and offices that, even on the busiest days, are just over half occupied.