Near Southeast DC: Past News Items - November 2005
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Natwar's Numbers
Nov 30, 2005 12:05 PM
The DC CFO office has posted Natwar Gandhi's prepared remarks from Monday's roundtable on the stadium--the PDF also includes a table of estimates of the costs for the stadium, showing the new $589 million figure. [On another front, Mr. Gandhi, I know you are very busy these days fending off snarky attacks from DC council members, but could you prod your staff to get the DC Property Sales database updated? I'm pretty sure there have been more than four property transactions in all of DC since Sept. 30th (although you were certainly quick to get the 45 stadium property eminent domain transfers into the system).... ]
More posts: Nationals Park

Capitol Gateway Overlay Zoning Meeting Rescheduled Again
Nov 30, 2005 11:26 AM
The scheduled Nov. 28 hearing on the new proposed amendment to the Capitol Gateway Overlay was again deferred, and is now scheduled for Dec. 5 at 6:00 pm. The main objectives for the proposed amendment are to further regulate density transfer available through the existing combined lot provisions; to require Zoning Commission review of development proposals throughout the overlay area; to establish retail requirements along Half Street SE and First Street SE; and to establish setback and step back requirements on Half Street SE, South Capitol Street, and Potomac Avenue.  (FYI, the CG Overlay is mapped to include an area roughly bounded by M Street to the north, the Anacostia River to the south, Fort McNair to the west, and the Southeast Federal Center site to the east.) The proposed amendment is in its early stages, there will no doubt be much discussion and back-and-forth.
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Today's Stadium Lease Update
Nov 30, 2005 8:45 AM

From Wednesday'sWashington Times, "Evans: No need for $20M for D.C.", discusses the misstatement about a $20 million payment from MLB, the status of the lease negotiations, and how the city council potentially would vote. Today also brings an AP story ("MLB Pressures DC on Ballpark") about a letter sent to Mayor Williams and Chairman Cropp from MLB expressing concern about the progress of the lease negotiations. And, a day late, here's Marc Fischer's Tuesday column in the Post, "Grinches Try to Steal Baseball."

More posts: Nationals Park

Forest City Profile
Nov 29, 2005 11:56 AM
"Company Invests in Capital to Redevelop Blighted Areas" is a nice profile of Forest City Enterprises, developer of Capper/Carrollsburg and the Southeast Federal Center, in its hometown paper, the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The article says that ground will be broken on the first part of the huge Federal Center redevelopment in 2007. (The article is part of a series detailing FCE's projects around the country.) For those of you interested in Southwest and the Waterside Mall redevelopment, the article mentions it as well....  [Full disclosure: I'm quoted deep down in the article.]
More posts: Capper, The Yards

Updated Photos
Nov 28, 2005 8:10 PM
Blech, after all this stadium stuff recently, I feel the need to clense my digital palate, so I've returned to my original Near Southeast mission for a moment and have posted some new photos. My latest Capper Seniors #1 photos show that construction is moving along, and I've added a cool comparison to my New Jersey Avenue page from the SE Freeway (don't ask how I took them) showing the impact of Capitol Hill Tower and the DOT HQ on the Near SE skyline in the past 11 months. And I've documented some minor changes in the landscape of the Ballpark District (with the demolition of a few small buildings along Half Street) and the 8th Street Historic District. I also tossed in a few updated shots on my M Street, Capitol Hill Tower, and DOT HQ pages, too. (As always, scroll the pages and look for the  icon.) Speaking of the Ballpark District, Stephen Green of the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development said today at the stadium hearing that the four finalists for the "master developer" gig were interviewed by the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation today, and that a team should be named by the first or second week in December.

Baseball Hearings (Update With News Items)
Nov 28, 2005 9:31 AM
From today's DC city council roundtable on the new baseball stadium: The Post reports that the city will submit the stadium lease agreement to the council for approval ("District to Submit Lease Agreement for Stadium"), which, as the article notes, "sets up another tenuous December for boosters of the $535 million stadium project along the Anacostia River in Southeast. After a bitter debate, the council passed the stadium-financing package last December by a 7-6 vote."  (Maybe the stadium can be paid for by selling a Nationals-branded line of Maalox to stadium supporters.) In better news for the pro-stadium folks, negotiators say that the lease agreement is close to completion, and DC Sports and Entertainment Commission chair Mark Tuohey told the city council today that baseball will pay $20 million for additional costs ranging from land acquisition to labor, insurance and materials. It was also said that the stadium will be going in front of the zoning board in early December. UPDATE: streaming video of the roundtable is now available on the DC council web site.
More posts: Nationals Park

Zzzzzz.... Stadium Lease Difficulties
Nov 26, 2005 11:40 AM

From Saturday's Post ("New Hurdle For Stadium Lease Deal"): "A majority on the D.C. Council is demanding a vote on a stadium lease between the city and Major League Baseball, and several council members said they will reject the deal unless baseball agrees to pay for any cost overruns on the project. [...] The council's involvement in the lease represents a setback for the mayor, the sports commission and baseball, all of which had been operating under the assumption that any lease agreement reached by the negotiators would be locked in place." From Sharon Ambrose, who voted in favor of the financing package last year: "I'm not prepared to continue being one of the biggest baseball boosters in the city without taking a look at that lease. Baseball is something the city really wants, but nobody wants it at any cost. . . . Wouldn't you think baseball wants a snazzy, attractive stadium in the nation's capital? Well, guys, ante up a little bit."

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CYA Mode Beginning on Stadium
Nov 24, 2005 12:02 PM
The DC Sports and Entertainment Commission is now saying (in Thursday's Washington Times, "Ballpark estimates made without data on area, design") that they were "forced to predict the cost in 2004 before knowing where the ballpark would be built or what it would look like and that unforeseen delays contributed to rising costs that have pressured the city to stay under a $535 million budget. " But Mark Tuohey, chairman of DCSEC, is quoted as saying, "There are no cost overruns ... it's all manageable. We're going to build the stadium for $535 million." Jack Evans is quoted (again) about getting different designs (saying that he asked HOK Sport for three designs, but got only one), but DC government official Stephen Green says that the "iconic" glass-stone-and-steel design is not inherently too costly.
More posts: Nationals Park

Boz Weighs In
Nov 23, 2005 11:20 PM

The back-and-forth about the new baseball stadium has become exasperating for everyone--and finally Thomas Boswell has weighed in, with "Play Ball--Now" in Thursday's Post. The summary: "But now is the time to abandon such tough-guy negotiating methods. Both sides should stop stalling. Stop pretending to debate who pays for the last 2,000 parking spaces for the richest customers. Or (get a load of this one) what happens if the District is destroyed by a super catastrophe like New Orleans and the new ballpark has cost overruns. Seriously, that is the kind of stuff these geniuses claim they've been squabbling about. What, no mandatory Meteor From Mars insurance? Let's finally cut to the chase. Both sides need to stop posturing over the last few million bucks and bragging rights. Instead, compromise, shake hands and start mining the gold from this Washington mother lode. Together."

More posts: Nationals Park

Stadium Price Tag Cap Can't Budge
Nov 23, 2005 2:23 PM
The Washington Times is reporting that the DC Council will be told at the Nov. 28 stadium roundtable that the $535 million cap on the new stadium's pricetag is written in stone, meaning that either the design would have to be scaled back or Major League Baseball would have to chip in (yeah, right). The story also reports that the stadium lease agreement appears to be far enough along that it will be able to be discussed publicly at Monday's roundtable (which is expected to be, the article quite rightly notes, a fairly contentious meeting). Will the "iconic" glass-stone-and-steel design that was presented to DC officials recently have to be scaled back? Would a brick retro stadium a la Camden Yards be cheaper? Will this ever end?
More posts: Nationals Park

Stadium Properties Eminent Domain Update
Nov 23, 2005 7:00 AM
The DC government has delayed by one month the vacate date for landowners in the footprint of the new Nationals stadium, according to Wednesday's Post ("Stadium Property Takeover Delayed"). Properties must now be vacated by Feb. 3, 2006; the mayor's spokesman says this will not effect the stadium's completion date. The article also says that several of the landowners filed counterarguments in court this week to the city's eminent domain proceedings: "Some are contesting the city's legal right to the land, some are challenging the amount of money the city is offering for the properties and some are fighting on both fronts." A hearing has been scheduled for Feb. 24, although one owner has requested a hearing date before the Feb. 3 vacate deadline. You can visit my Stadium Offers page to see which lots have been seized by the city, what the properties were assessed for in 2005, and what the city offered.
More posts: Nationals Park

Zoning Updates
Nov 22, 2005 2:16 PM
Zoning Update: The hearing on the new proposed amendment to the Capitol Gateway Overlay is now scheduled for Nov. 28 at 6:00 pm. The main objectives for the proposed amendment are to further regulate density transfer available through the existing combined lot provisions; to require Zoning Commission review of development proposals throughout the overlay area; to establish retail requirements along Half Street SE and First Street SE; and to establish setback and step back requirements on Half Street SE, South Capitol Street, and Potomac Avenue.  (FYI, the CG Overlay is mapped to include an area roughly bounded by M Street to the north, the Anacostia River to the south, Fort McNair to the west, and the Southeast Federal Center site to the east.) Also, at Monday's meeting, the commission voted to approve a proposed text amendment to allow asphalt plants as permitted uses within industrial zone districts subject to special exception review and also to specifically allow Senate Asphalt (a plant being forced to leave its 60 P Street SE location because of the baseball stadium) to relocate to DC Village.
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Post Editorial on Stadium Financing
Nov 22, 2005 2:01 PM
The Post editorial board weighs in (unhappily) on the state of the financing for the new Nationals stadium.
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ANC6D Letter to Mayor Williams on Stadium Meeting
Nov 21, 2005 9:06 AM
ANC6D chair Andy Litsky has penned an open letter to Mayor Williams (posted at DC Watch, scroll down to find it) alerting him to the Nov. 28 town meeting being held by ANC6D and the Southwest Neighborhood Assembly, "How Baseball Will Impact Southwest." He explains: "Whether by design or default, it has become apparent that baseball stadium project management is balkanized. We'd like our November 28th meeting to provide an opportunity for all parties under one roof to provide our community with as complete a picture as possible of what is going on presently and what we can expect moving forward. Timelines and, more importantly, a clear delineation of who's in charge, would be most welcome."  The letter goes on to cite specific DC government entities that have their hands in the stadium, and what organizers would like to hear from them at this meeting.
More posts: ANC News, Nationals Park

Growing Stadium Price Tag Causing Trouble
Nov 21, 2005 8:58 AM
Happy Monday morning! In "D.C. Ballpark's Rising Price Tag Compels Cuts," the Post details growing problems with the city's attempts to stay under the mandated $535 million price tag for building the new Nationals baseball stadium: "City officials had included money to repave roads and expand a Metro station near the stadium in the $535 million budget approved by the D.C. Council last year. Those funds now will go instead toward labor and building materials and to cover the cost of land for the stadium, which also is more expensive than anticipated. [...] The D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission, which is overseeing the construction, determined that the cost of the distinctive ballpark designed by its architects has risen from $244 million to $337 million. That set off a scramble by top city officials who have since reduced the cost to $300 million but still are seeking money to complete the project."
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WashTimes Blasts MLB
Nov 21, 2005 8:43 AM
A Sunday editorial in the Washington Times ("More Baseball Blunders") gives it to Major League Baseball for ballking at the city's proposal that MLB pay the $6 million insurance that Wall Street is requiring for the new baseball stadium in the event of a player strike or terrorist attack: "The fact that MLB can balk at even this tiny a committment with any credibility is another indication of the sorry depths of these negotiations. No sweetheart deal is good enough."
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Stadium Design Unveiled to City Officials
Nov 18, 2005 12:02 AM

After days of no-progress-on-the-lease stories, today we get to shift gears, with word that the design of the new ballpark is being shown to DC officials, and that the reaction is positive. From the Post ("Stadium's Modern Design is Clear Winner on Council"): "A much-anticipated design for a new home for the Washington Nationals features glass, stone and steel as the primary materials and departs sharply from the popular red-brick throwback ballparks. The design will not be released for several weeks and still could be modified, but Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) and key city officials have given the nod to the modern look." Mr. Bowtie, Linda Cropp, and Sharon Ambrose gave the design high marks, but apparently Jack Evans is still working hard to convince everyone that a Camden Yards-like red brick stadium is what DC needs (and that it would be cheaper). More on the design, from the Post: it "features an exterior wall largely made of glass and broken up by limestone portals, according to city sources who have seen the drawings. Aspects of the design create a translucent quality, offering fans inside views of the surrounding neighborhood and teasing those outside with glimpses of game activities. [...] Two cantilevered ramps leading to the upper decks contain viewing platforms from which fans can pause to take in sweeping scenes of the city -- the federal monuments to the north and the Anacostia River to the south."

More posts: Nationals Park

Navy Yard O Street Gate Set to Reopen
Nov 17, 2005 12:55 PM
After 19 months of construction, the Navy Yard entrance at 11th and O Streets is set to reopen on Nov. 21, and will become the sole entrance for visitors and deliveries. A new visitor parking lot has been constructed as well. Next question--when will the public be able to access the beautiful Riverwalk the Navy has constructed along the Anacostia without having to show ID? (When visiting the area this past weekend, I saw what appear to be new fences between the Riverwalk and the Navy Yard itself, and a nicely done brick gate to enter the Riverwalk from the east, but the gate is closed and cyclone fences block it as well.) UPDATE: Scroll to the bottom of my Navy Yard page to see photos of both the new O Street entrance and the fenced-off Riverwalk.
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Special Community Baseball Stadium Update Meeting
Nov 17, 2005 11:39 AM
(UPDATED to fix address for Nov. 28 meeting) ANC 6D and the Southwest Neighborhood Assembly are holding a Baseball Stadium Update meeting on Monday, Nov. 28 at 7 pm at St. Matthew's Lutheran Church, 222 M Street SW. They are working to get city officials, Sports Commission officials, and others to attend to discuss "traffic, construction, zoning and other important issues." This was announced at the ANC 6D meeting on Nov. 14. Also at that meeting, the ANC voted to support the Florida Rock project; as for Capper / Carrollsburg, while the ANC voted to support the alley closings/street openings portion of the zoning application, they are for now opposed to the second-stage PUD. ANC Commissioner Williams is trying to organize a special meeting to hear more from the community so that another vote can be taken by the commission before the zoning deadline (former residents are complaining they are having problems with the developers about their potential return to the development).

Stadium Financing. Again.
Nov 17, 2005 10:36 AM

My patience is wearing thin having to track all these financing stories! "Think Tank Questions Stadium Financing Plan" in Thursday's District Extra in the Post highlights a study by the DC Fiscal Policy Institute which says "A private financing plan being used by the District to help pay for a new baseball stadium project has the potential to cost city taxpayers nearly $60 million in lost revenue." The specifics and numbers all make my head hurt, so your homework assignment tonight is to read both links yourself and come to your own conclusions :-).

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