Affirming a U.S. District Court ruling from 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia issued a decision that stops an unprecedented expansion of the Davis-Bacon Act onto the CityCenterDC project on the grounds that the District of Columbia was not a party to the construction contracts and that the project is not a “public work” because it is not publicly funded or government-owned or government-operated. Previously, the Department of Labor’s Administrative Review Board concluded CityCenterDC—a privately funded, occupied and maintained mixed-use project comprised of condominiums, apartments, offices and retail stores located on a plot of land owned by the District of Columbia—constituted a public work under the Davis-Bacon Act. 

The decision is expected to save the district an estimated $20 million in costs that would have been incurred if the project was subject to the Davis-Bacon Act, according to Associated Builders and Contractors, which filed an amicus brief in the case. The ruling also reinforces the 85-year-old precedent that privately funded projects, including those developed via non-traditional arrangements on land owned by municipalities, are not subject to Davis-Bacon wages.