2006-09-21, 11:38

Mixed-use plan for D.C. stadium area falls through

By: Jonathan Groner
The Washington Post reports today that a major mixed-use project for the area near the new D.C. baseball stadium has fallen through. This article focuses mostly on stadium parking issues and points out only briefly that this failure deals a serious blow to plans to revive the city's deserted Anacostia riverfront. Here is a portion of the article.

The D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission yesterday abandoned a plan to build condominiums, shops and parking garages next to the new Nationals baseball stadium in Southeast Washington, dealing a major setback to Mayor Anthony A. Williams's hope that the project would spark renewal of the Anacostia River waterfront.
The deal collapsed when the commission and Western Development, headed by Herbert S. Miller, failed to reach an agreement on the financing terms of his mixed-use development proposal by yesterday's deadline.
With Miller's plan off the table, commission officials are uncertain about how they will provide the required 1,225 parking spots for the Washington Nationals in time for the stadium's scheduled opening in April 2008.
"We are disappointed that Western hasn't accepted our fair and reasonable agreement for parking and development," said board member William N. Hall, head of the commission's baseball committee. "We are now considering all options to provide the parking and development for the baseball stadium, which is in the best interests of the city."
The dissolution of the Miller project could have far-reaching consequences on the entire baseball experience and the city's planned revival of the waterfront.
Miller's plan, which included shops and restaurants in two 13-story condo towers, was envisioned as the anchor for redevelopment of a barren industrial neighborhood near the Navy Yard and South Capitol Street along the Anacostia River.
Williams had promised that the development would reinvigorate the waterfront and bring new tax revenue to offset the city's $611 million investment of public money in the stadium project.
"The mayor still hopes to make this plan work," Morris said. "But if we can't get all the parties together, we obviously will move to Plan B."

If no similar proposal emerges, it appears as if the city has missed a major chance to bring back a close-in but underutilized area. Two thirteen-story condo towers with shops and restaurants, right near a Major League Baseball stadium, could have created the critical mass needed to build a new urban neighborhood. I wonder if the Post follows up this story soon and discusses in much more detail the real estate financing issues and the possible effects on the neighborhood (or lack thereof) that may be involved -- not just the issue of parking for baseball fans.


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