Greater Greater Washington

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Candidates voice skepticism about a soccer stadium land swap deal

We interviewed candidates for DC mayor and competitive council races for the April 1 primary, and recorded the conversations on video. Here are the discussions about a potential football stadium with candidates for all of the races we covered. See all of the interviews here.

Would swapping land at 14th and U for a soccer stadium at Buzzard Point be a good deal for DC? Some candidates in the April 1 Democratic primary don't think so, while others want to ensure that a change benefits the affected neighborhoods of Buzzard Point and U Street.


Photo by Chase McAlpine on Flickr.

The Gray administration is negotiating to transfer the Reeves Center municipal office building at 14th and U to developer Akridge, in exchange for Akridge's land in Buzzard Point. This would be one element of a multi-faceted deal to assemble land for a DC United soccer stadium.

The full details of the deal aren't public or may not even be worked out yet, but candidates reacted to what we do know so far. Many think the land swap plan is too complicated.

Ward 1 councilmember Jim Graham said, "The numbers that I have seen suggest that we're paying high for a scrappy piece of property in an undesirable area, and underpaying for a government asset in a highly desirable area. Hold an auction for the Reeves building. People tell me you would be amazed how much money would be bid for the property."

Jack Evans, the Ward 2 member who's running for mayor, said, "I wouldn't do it that way. If you start with the premis that building a soccer stadium at that site is a good idea, and I do, the mayor's proposal is too complicated. It's hard to understand, hard to evaluate. People become very distrustful. If I would do it using the Reeves Centerand I'm not saying I would do thatI would just sell the Reeves Center and use the market price to buy the land, rather than trying to do it a way that looks suspicious."

John Settles, running against Anita Bonds for council at large, feels similarly. "I love DC United. I'm a soccer fan and a soccer coach. I don't think swapping the Reeves Center is a good strategy. I'd rather see the city just buy the 2 acres of land." He said that a new project to replace Reeves could represent an opportunity for affordable housing for families, coworking and incubator space for technology companies, and the arts.

Pedro Rubio, also running for the at-large seat, also said he supports the stadium at Buzzard Point, especially since many Latino residents and young people follow the team, but said, "I don't like the land swap." He worries about losing city services at the Reeves Center like the LGBT community center and Office of Latino Affairs.

Muriel Bowser, Ward 4 councilmember and candidate for mayor, doesn't think the city would be getting a good deal on the land swap, and isn't very supportive of using public resources. for a stadium at all. She said, "If the mayor can make a case for using $150 million of city resources, we have to be assured we're getting what we deserve for the Reeves center, and what I've heard preliminarily makes me nervous."

On the question of whether a $150 million deal makes sense overall, she said, "We have a billionaire owner .... Some people would ask the question, why do we have to give them $150 million? We have a lot of priorities for DC." Though, she noted, "I think that this team has been a good neighbor in the District, and there are a lot of District residents who support the team."

Ward 1 candidates want office space at Reeves

Other candidates, especially candidates for individual ward seats, focused on the impacts to individual communities and the best ways to use the land. Both the Reeves Center and the Buzzard Point are in Wards (1 and 6, respectively) with competitive council races.

Both Graham and his Ward 1 challenger, Brianne Nadeau, want to make sure there is office space at 14th and U in any building that would replace Reeves. Graham said, "We've got plenty of luxury condos and rentals. What we don't have is enough daytime commerce. If we lose the Reeves Ctr and those government agencies, that will be very upsetting."

Nadeau said she wants: "to create some dynamic ground-level retail and community space. Even before this deal came about, I had been thinking, what could we do about the Reeves Center? Open up that atrium, create lunch space and music like you see in some cities like Norfolk. For me it's about how do you take this an make it an opportunity."

"The reason I want that is, if you want a commercial corridor that has balanced options, you need an anchor and foot traffic for the daytime retail. ... We fought first for the hotel at 13th and U, and having lost that, we're fighting for the commercial anchor. It's essential we get the best use for the community and not just the best for the city."

As for the overall merit of the deal, Nadeau said she's amenable to city resources helping fund a soccer stadium which could create jobs, so long as "those are good jobs" with a Project Labor Agreement, and opportunities for the workers to unionize.

Ward 6 candidates think about Southwest residents' needs

In Ward 6, Charles Allen wants to ensure that any deal comes with investments for the area, including improving the public housing in the area, and adding parkland. He said, "When the baseball stadium was built, the city build Yards Park. Yards Park brings just as many people into that neighborhood and has been just as catalytic for that neighborhood as the baseball stadium has been. Southwest needs its own version of Yards Park. I think we need to use this as am opportunity to invest in our public space, and invest in our green space, and invest in the river."

Darrell Thompson started his statement being strongly supportive of the potential deal, though as he spoke he also brought up concerns about getting a good deal and making sure immediate neighbors have input. "It's a good idea," he said. "It's a very good idea. ... It first and foremost gives us an opportunity to come back to where we started, providing jobs, job training and apprenticeships for District residents.

"But we also have to make sure it's a good deal for District residents. We have to have input, make sure their concerns are heard. There's a tax structure to this project that's still being worked out. We have to make sure this is a good deal for District taxpayers."

You can watch all of the videos below.

Jim Graham:

Jack Evans:

John Settles:

Pedro Rubio:

Muriel Bowser:

Brianne Nadeau:

Charles Allen:

Darrel Thompson:

David Alpert is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Greater Greater Washington and Greater Greater Education. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He loves the area which is, in many ways, greater than those others, and wants to see it become even greater. 

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Well this settles guy just lost my vote. You don't need more affordable housing there, you need to get RID of the existing affordable housing. Thank god the plan to tear down part of that section 8 is in place. There will be one section 8 left on that block, and it is a perfect chance to get rid of that and the reeves center at the same time.

Yes, we need commercial space. But I don't think anyone wants an office on 16th and U. Hotel woud be a good compromise.

by charlie on Mar 24, 2014 12:23 pm • linkreport

Glad to see skepticism of the land swap. I never heard a sufficiently clear explanation why this was a better plan than just two arms length transactions.

by BTA on Mar 24, 2014 12:46 pm • linkreport

This is the first time i've ever agreed with Muriel.

Go ahead and plop another stadium down in that side of town. It's a terrible idea. the area immediately around nats stadium between North Cap and New Jersey is a mini ghost town during the off season.

by potomacaveres on Mar 24, 2014 1:10 pm • linkreport

The off-season period would be reduced with the DCU stadium though. Places like Pittsburgh that have multiple stadiums together have done a good job of making them vibrant, not ghost towns.

by DE on Mar 24, 2014 1:46 pm • linkreport

I'm not even against the stadium, I just dont like how shady this process is.

by BTA on Mar 24, 2014 2:05 pm • linkreport

@potomacaveres

You mean South Capitol; North Capitol is no where near Nationals Stadium

by kk on Mar 24, 2014 2:17 pm • linkreport

@potomacaveres:

Have you been to Buzzard Point now? It is currently no-man's land. The DC United will be a huge boon for this area.

Also, the Capitol Riverfront/Navy Yard neighborhood was once previously a ghost-town during the off-season but it has changed significantly over the past year, with the opening of several significant bars and restaurants.

by 202_cyclist on Mar 24, 2014 2:29 pm • linkreport


BTA: the biggest reason for the land swap is that it accelerates the timetable by a couple of years. Obviously this matters a lot to DCU, when they hemmorhage money at RFK. And given the degree to which DCU has been led on and tricked/lied to by the District in the past, getting it done as quickly as possible before the District can play the role of Lucy-with-the-football again is understandably of great appeal.

The second reason is that structuring it as one deal makes it harder for the entire thing to be derailed by one landowner who

by Bootsy on Mar 24, 2014 2:32 pm • linkreport

potomacaveres,
Isn't that the point of the stadium? It creates a reason not only to go to those places but actually live and invest in them as no one does now (near the proposed DC United stadium). Finding property around the Nats stadium is difficult at best now. It never was this way 10 years ago. They couldn't give away the land then. I understand discussion surrounding the deal but don't dismiss what is clearly a good idea.

by Ben on Mar 24, 2014 2:35 pm • linkreport

(dangit, accidentally snipped part of the post)

Anyway, the second reason is that structuring it as one deal makes it harder for the entire thing to be derailed by one landowner who decides to set a price that's not remotely close to market rate because there are no other options but to pay them. Eminent domain would get around that, I suppose; but I'm really not a fan of eminent domain.

by Bootsy on Mar 24, 2014 2:36 pm • linkreport

There are a couple of transcribing errors that popped out. While I think it's hilarious that anyone believes Yards Park has brought just as many people and is just as much as a catalyst as the baseball stadium, "I think we need to use this as am opportunity to invest in our public space, and invest in our green space, and invest in the river." should be "I think we need to use this as an opportunity to invest in our public space, and invest in our green space, and invest in the river." Also, "premise" is spelled wrong in the Jack Evans quote.

by selxic on Mar 24, 2014 2:36 pm • linkreport

Not that I would argue that Nationals Stadium had no effect, but it seems rather glaring to ignore that it happened at the fevered peak of development in the area and that it was accompanied by several large DC/federal government relocations to the area which probably have more significant effect.

by BTA on Mar 24, 2014 2:41 pm • linkreport

Yeah I've heard that before but really where is United going to go?

by BTA on Mar 24, 2014 2:42 pm • linkreport

Buzzard's Point is a no man's land right now, but there is no reason to believe that a soccer stadium is the only or best way to fix that, and the reasons why it is a no man's land have been well documented on this blog and in its comments.

by David C on Mar 24, 2014 3:07 pm • linkreport

Ah yes, South Cap.. sorry! Honest typing mistake.

And yes, I formerly lived in the Ballpark neighborhood, and I firmly restate my opinion, taking note of BTA's point that development in the area was accompanied by government agency relocation.

Look at how lopsided development is within the neighborhood: it is concentrated around yards park and DDOT. Meanwhile there's an office building sitting empty at M & half st and there are no current tenants in the retail surrounding the Half Street Fairgrounds. When there are not games, there is nobody on that side of the neighborhood.

It is a tad delusional to think "Build it and they will come" applies to stadiums. The rise of that neighborhood likely is most attributable to the DDOT complex in conjunction with the increased value associated with being metro accessible.

On my current side of the freeway, the closer you get to RFK, the sadder the neighborhood gets. There you have what, in my humble opinion, is some of the most valuable and desirable land in the city (beautiful views, accessible via transit and car) being wasted on a massive, underutilized stadium with seas of parking lots.

I fail to see why taking buzzard point and turning it into a stadium, especially for the "much beloved and successful" DC united - long term - adds value. There could be much better uses for the land that become apparent 5-10 years down the line once the rest of Southwest has started to infill.

More broadly, with the completely speculative (and unlikely) talk about eventually trying to move the Maryland Football team back into the district, I'd like to pose: why do Baseball, Soccer, and Football all need their own, separate facilities? And Why should a city struggling with finding a place to put everybody waste 4 city blocks for a sports team - on the city's dime.

by potomacaveres on Mar 24, 2014 3:28 pm • linkreport

"really where is United going to go?"

Anywhere, honestly. They're currently in just about the worst place they could be business-wise.

by Sgc on Mar 24, 2014 3:38 pm • linkreport

Most importantly: Secrets would have to close and that would be a moral and historic travesty

by potomacaveres on Mar 24, 2014 3:38 pm • linkreport

potomacCaveres

I think you mean USDOT - DDOT is here, but is a lot smaller, I think.

by MStreetDenizen on Mar 24, 2014 3:40 pm • linkreport

"On my current side of the freeway, the closer you get to RFK, the sadder the neighborhood gets. There you have what, in my humble opinion, is some of the most valuable and desirable land in the city (beautiful views, accessible via transit and car) being wasted on a massive, underutilized stadium with seas of parking lots."

Yeah, but the last part of that is the key--it's the seas of parking lots (absent in this deal) that break up the chance of neighborhood building. One of the positives of this type of deal is actually the opportunity to reclaim the area RFK sits on, and move the team to a site that is 1/4th as large, and would be forced to use either Metro or the same parking lots the Nats fans already do, resulting in an efficiency upgrade for the land those parking lots sit on.

by Sgc on Mar 24, 2014 3:50 pm • linkreport

"Most importantly: Secrets would have to close and that would be a moral and historic travesty"

Far as I know that's not true. That belief crops up from a crude drawing of the plot on a blog a year or so ago that was about half again as big as the real footprint of the proposed project.

by Sgc on Mar 24, 2014 3:52 pm • linkreport

SGC that is a fair point RE parking etc. I do just have to wonder if there is somewhere better in the District for that. Not to sound all NIMBY (not that Buzzard Point is in my back yard anymore).

And RE: Secrets. While it's true that the stadium itself might not supplant Secrets, the zoning restrictions on a place like that are ridiculous (which is why they ended up in buzzard point after they cleared out to make room for Nats Park). X number of feet away from schools, churches, and homes while remaining within the same zoning district. While it's true that the "we were here first" argument would come up, I cant imagine some politics not occurring surrounding having a drag/male strip club next to a stadium.

TL/DR Ella Fitzgerald's too old for another move, but that's nto the reason not to build the stadium there.

by potomacaveres on Mar 24, 2014 4:03 pm • linkreport

I almost agree Sgc, except RFK is a federal property so it's not like DC could repurpose that easily despite a certain councilmember's grand plans.

It is pretty clear to me that part of the problem in SW/Buzzard point is speculation stalling development that might happen faster otherwise, but it also seems like really unrealistic timelines for how quickly people expect the area to develop.

Again, I'm just curious, has United ever produced one credible option for relocating?

by BTA on Mar 24, 2014 4:04 pm • linkreport

@BTA: I'm not sure what you're asking in your last question. Baltimore has courted them, but they've tried very hard to say that they'd much rather not relocate to Baltimore. I'm not sure if that answers what you're asking, though.

by Bootsy on Mar 24, 2014 4:19 pm • linkreport

@BTA - MLS did contract two teams (including the best team in the league at the time) back in 2001, and there are several new markets angling to come into MLS either through expansion (limited in the near term) or through purchase and relocation of an existing club, as happened with San Jose/Houston. Moving or folding the club is very much a possibility.

by Adam M Taylor on Mar 24, 2014 4:26 pm • linkreport

I mean unless they have an offer I'm not sure it matters if someone is courting them. Did Baltimore offer a new stadium?

by BTA on Mar 24, 2014 4:36 pm • linkreport

MLS has a round of expansion upcoming. Out of Minneapolis, San Antonio, Austin, Sacramento, Atlanta, and Miami (that I've heard about so far) three are likely to get teams. The losers from that expansion are the most likely to be in the hunt for relocated franchises.

by Sgc on Mar 24, 2014 4:45 pm • linkreport

@BTA: Baltimore on their own chose a location for a stadium for the team, did a study to determine what they'd have to do and how much it would cost them vs. the team to build there, and made a proposal to the team. I don't know the details of the proposal.

But I'm not sure that this matters. What it boils down to is this:

- the team can't be profitable at RFK; instead, each year, they lose several million dollars;
- this is money lost not just to the investor/operators that have managing rights for DCU, but under MLS' bizarre single-entity structure, losses to the league (and all the other investor/operators of all the other teams in the league) as well;
- obviously the investor/operators of DCU aren't going to be willing to lose money forever -- but perhaps more importantly, the league has said that they need to see something happen here soon, or they're going to force the issue;
- meanwhile, there are investors in other cities offering the league tens of millions of dollars to buy into the single entity and assume operating rights to a local team;
- so if no plan becomes agreed upon in the next year and a half, I think a betting man would bet on the team either being relocated to one of the cities that wants to come into the league, or being contracted to make room for one of the cities that wants to come into the league.

by Bootsy on Mar 24, 2014 4:46 pm • linkreport

Why isn't there mentions of where Fleming or Bonds are on this issue?

by William on Mar 24, 2014 4:54 pm • linkreport

I'd like to pose: why do Baseball, Soccer, and Football all need their own, separate facilities?

Just because they're all sports with a ball that use a flat, roughly rectangular field doesn't mean they have the same requirements in playing area or seating for fans. If you try to build a facility to accommodate all of them, you end up building something awful for all of them. The multi-purpose stadium was tried and failed in the 60s and 70s. Sun Life Stadium down in Miami was designed for all three and you end up with a stadium that, when configured for football, has the first row 90 feet from the field. Its awful. That's more than twice the distance for most football stadiums.

by Another Nick on Mar 24, 2014 5:33 pm • linkreport

I have to admit, there is a stadium design that would allow for combined use between MLS and the NFL. . . but there's a price-tag for that which, judging by Vancouver and Atlanta, is roughly $200 million extra on top of what it cost to build the NFL stadium by itself. Compared to building a separate soccer stadium, you've spent $50 million extra for an 80% solution.

I file that next to the inevitable 'why don't they renovate RFK' comments in the bin marked 'technically feasible, aesthetically disappointing, pointlessly expensive.'

by Sgc on Mar 24, 2014 5:55 pm • linkreport

@Sgc -- your last paragraph, while true, doesn't really address why "renovating RFK" is a complete non-starter.

by Bootsy on Mar 24, 2014 6:13 pm • linkreport

Not in gory detail, but the conclusion that you'd have spent an ungodly fortune (far more than starting from scratch would cost) and still have a mediocre venue was implied.

by Sgc on Mar 24, 2014 6:17 pm • linkreport

But there are still other issues. Like the fact that the District doesn't want to renovate RFK -- they have other ideas for what to do with the land. And more importantly, as long as DCU has no control over the parking and concession revenue streams, and has to pay an enormous rent to the District, DCU can't be profitable in RFK even if a fairy godmother flew down and waved a wand to make renovations happen.

by Bootsy on Mar 24, 2014 6:43 pm • linkreport

The United are owned by a foreigner, why would DC gift some guy who doesn't even live in this country $200 million?

by PowerBoater69 on Mar 24, 2014 7:02 pm • linkreport

Yeah, let's lynch that swarthy ferriner!!! Pond scum, the lot of 'em!

Note it down, everyone, Mar 24, 2014 6:43 pm: last post that made any attempt to further the discussion.

by Sgc on Mar 24, 2014 7:29 pm • linkreport

The fact that the main argument against the plan is that it is "too complicated" doesn't exactly inspire a lot of confidence in the intelligence of these candidates. The quote "People tell me you would be amazed how much money would be bid for the property (Reeves Center)" is also not a very inspiring thing to here from a candidate. Shows a lack of interest or knowledge of the subject - and no inclination of a desire to learn more. This largely seems like the candidates are uninformed of the plan and blindly opposing it without caring - or being patient enough to learn more.

If they honestly do want the stadium deal to get done and/or DCU to stay, they should be taking the time to thoroughly and accurately review the plan when it's made available. If this deal is shut down or not easily adjusted and passed, it is extremely likely the owners will take the team and move to another city that is willing to work with them to build a stadium - and there are several trying to get into MLS who will.

Finally, I really wish people, especially candidates, would stop referring to Thohir as a billionaire. While his father may be a billionaire, Thohir's own personal wealth (while quite considerable) is not that high.

by KD10 on Mar 24, 2014 9:42 pm • linkreport

"f this deal is shut down or not easily adjusted and passed, it is extremely likely the owners will take the team and move to another city that is willing to work with them to build a stadium - and there are several trying to get into MLS who will."

No there aren't...that dog don't hunt. DC United has spent the better part of 2008-2013 begging someone else to take them.

First PG County, then Baltimore, then Loudoun County. All of them gave DC United a straight faced "No thank you".

If DC United had any other options, they would have already used them, but the sad truth of the matter for the team is that no one wants them, at least not with the associated demands and costs that go along with them.

I think spending one dollar building shiny half billion dollar privately owned toys for billionaires (oh, I am sorry...hundred millionaires) who could pay for these things from their own pocket should be outlawed, but at least the City set up separate tax to pay for the baseball stadium...a tax mind you that's collected so much in surplus revenue the stadium could be paid off in half the time if the city quit siphoning it off to pay for their other bad decisions.

And if DC United does leave, so what? Sure, they have a following, but they are the least attended professional sports team in DC, and that says a lot considering how awful the Wizards and Redskins are.

by Hardly on Mar 24, 2014 10:17 pm • linkreport

I think you miss his point. The list you present is all cities in the immediate area (and in Baltimore's case, also an incorrect account of events).

The team has never seriously explored leaving the market. But at some point they will have to do so.

by Sgc on Mar 24, 2014 10:30 pm • linkreport

DC may leave the market. Though if they think they can make more money in Austin, good luck with that.

But, what I'd like to see is a good estimate of what that loss will mean to DC. How much is DCU worth to DC per year? I've estimated it at about $3 million a year. That's something, but not the end of the world. Any deal that spends more than that is a loser in my opinion.

by David C on Mar 24, 2014 10:46 pm • linkreport

Anyone actually curious about the possibility of the team going to Baltimore here's a summary of the 120 page study and a link to the study.

http://www.bizjournals.com/baltimore/news/2010/12/22/study-major-league-soccer-stadium-in.html?page=all

by Fan_in_Baltimore on Mar 25, 2014 7:26 am • linkreport

$200 million for a team that will draw about 13,000 this weekend and play less than two home games per month.

by PowerBoater69 on Mar 25, 2014 7:32 am • linkreport

@Hardly -- It is simply not true that Baltimore rejected the stadium idea. It was DC United that put some distance there, making quite clear that they were focused on trying to get a stadium built in the DC metro area. Moreover, Baltimore is hardly the only option for the franchise. There are multiple cities bidding to get one of a limited number of franchises.

If the Council rejects the swap without coming back with an alternative proposal to just purchase the land and convey it to otherwise provide it to DC United to build a stadium at Buzzards' Point, the franchise will be gone. There is no way that they stay beyond the 2017 season without a deal for a new stadium.

But, that's hardly the only reason to pave the way for a stadium at Buzzards. It could be a vital catalyst to development there...and be an integral part of the DC Waterfront for many decades (or centuries) to come.

by Fischy (Ed F.) on Mar 25, 2014 8:47 am • linkreport

Any plans for a future football stadium should be considered here for if and when DC's NFL team returns to the district, pending an acceptable name change of course. Perhaps it could also go into Buzzard's Point with the soccer stadium, which would mean three sports facilities close together. If the NFL team doesn't return soon enough, then, oh well. In which case down the road a new NFL stadium could be built on the RFK site (after tear down of the current stadium) but with a smaller footprint meaning fewer, smaller parking lots and more appropriate use, such as mixed use development, close by.

by DaveG on Mar 25, 2014 11:11 am • linkreport

If the Council rejects the swap without coming back with an alternative proposal to just purchase the land and convey it to otherwise provide it to DC United to build a stadium at Buzzards' Point, the franchise will be gone.

And how will that hurt DC?

It could be a vital catalyst to development there...and be an integral part of the DC Waterfront for many decades (or centuries) to come.

Well, centuries is over-stating it. If development is the goal, why not put out an RFP. In it we state that DC will buy the land, prepare it, rent it for $1 and offer tax breaks, transportation improvements etc...And then see what comes back. If the stadium is the best offer, then that would be the prudent thing to do perhaps. But if it is not, do you think we should do it anyway?

by David C on Mar 25, 2014 11:43 am • linkreport

I mean really we are ignoring the opportunity cost. I think the stadium is fine, but I don't like the way the deal is structured. If you really want to make the development argument, you can't forget that the city is giving away a very valuable piece of land too which is a cost that has to balanced against development potential.

by BTA on Mar 25, 2014 12:01 pm • linkreport

@BTA, the city is not giving anything away. They are essentially selling the Reeves Center site to Akridge in exchange for land at Buzzard Point and cash. Most people agree that it's a good idea to get the very valuable land under the Reeves Center back onto the tax rolls, and the city will be receiving value - as determined by three independent appraisers - for the parcel.

If you were referring to the parcel on Buzzard Point, I think it's arguable that it is "very valuable" at this point, and in any event, the city isn't giving it away, either. It is leveraging its ownership of the land (and the city will maintain ownership of the site, only leasing it to the team) to get $150 million+ of private development in the stadium, plus whatever other private investment the team and other developers pursue on Buzzard Point. This is the most concrete proposal for the area that we've seen, and without some signal to the market, it's likely to be the only one we see for many years if the stadium falls through (cf. Poplar Point).

by Adam M Taylor on Mar 25, 2014 4:22 pm • linkreport

Correction - It's not "arguable" that the land at Buzzard Point is "very valuable" at this point. I meant "debatable," but probably should have gone with "doubtful" instead.

by Adam M Taylor on Mar 25, 2014 4:23 pm • linkreport

@Adam M Taylor:

Are there really three "independent" appraisers? The way I understand it, DC picks one appraiser, Akridge picks a second, and these two, together, pick a third. Based on this system, it seems pretty debatable that there are 3 independent appraisers. Also, how does one get qualified as an independent appraiser?

Instead, the Reeves center should be sold to the highest bidder. That improves the likelihood that DC gets fair market value because it relies on the market, rather than the "independence" of appraisers. Personally, I don't trust the Gray Administration or others on City Council to choose appraisers that will ensure that DC gets the best deal, especially because it seems that Gray and others have an emotional/political stake in building a stadium as a monument to their leadership.

by sk on Mar 25, 2014 4:53 pm • linkreport

How is a giant building that is dark for over 300 days a year going to do anything but slow down development in the area? Nats Park has crowds that are twice as big for over four times as many games a year and area development has moved down from the Navy Yards rather than out from the ballpark.

by PowerBoater69 on Mar 25, 2014 5:55 pm • linkreport

The reason DC is pursuing a land swap and not a traditional kind of financing is because most of the city's long term financing capacity has been encumbered by the baseball stadium and other geegaws (it probably doesn't help to build rebuild underused high schools at $130MM a crack) so there isn't enough money available to finance a soccer stadium in traditional ways.

That's the same reason that building unrelated mixed use is being proposed for the rebuilding of the DC central library branch, because for the most part, the city's long term funding stream available from the sale of bonds is tied up through about 2018.

by Richard Layman on Mar 25, 2014 5:56 pm • linkreport

The reason that Akridge and the United are seeking a land swap is because the more moving pieces the more opportunity to fleece the city. There is absolutely no reason to tie these two deals together, as noted by the candidates who aren't waiting to be indicted for campaign fraud.

It is true that the city doesn't have the cash on hand for the stadium and that the credit limit is maxed out, but that's not a good reason to make a swap rather than two separate cash transactions. If anything the city's lack of liquidity is good reason to hold off on high risk/high cost deals for a while.

by PowerBoater69 on Mar 25, 2014 8:22 pm • linkreport

Agreeing with BTA it seems shady.

by asffa on Mar 25, 2014 9:44 pm • linkreport

re PowerBoater69 and others -- don't disagree. Another example of why the city needs an open and transparent capital improvements planning and budgeting system. Typically they are run on a six year time frame, updated every two years.

When I talk to elected officials in other jurisdictions, they are always amazed that DC doesn't function this way on capital budgeting matters.

Alley closings and land swaps should be part of this process.

And a similar process should be created for tax abatements and inducements.

The extension of the point made by PowerBoater69 is a point I make frequently, that DC has under-defined processes like this in order to promote lack of transparency and to reduce costs to developers.

by Richard Layman on Mar 26, 2014 7:08 am • linkreport

@Richard Layman:

"Alley closings?"

by LowHeadways on Mar 26, 2014 7:35 am • linkreport

Alley closings are a form of land grant which end up making a project worth more money and usually with a bit more FAR. RIght now they are not monetized in the same way that other zoning relief is, and again, are pursued through individual bills initiated by Councilmembers rather than through a coordinated and transparent and comprehensive process.

by Richard Layman on Mar 26, 2014 1:18 pm • linkreport

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