So what's the meaning of the pronouncement by Washington, D.C. mayor-elect Muriel E. Bowser
that she wants
to finalize a stadium deal for the D.C. United with public money by the end of the year but doesn't support the current deal built around swapping properties? The already complicated deal may have
just gotten that much more complicated.
The deal on the table calls for D.C. to trade the Frank D. Reeves Center, a 30-year-old city office building, to developer Akridge for the Buzzard
Point land Akridge owns and on which D.C. United wants to build its stadium.
Bowser, who also is chairman of the D.C. Council’s Economic Development Committee and therefore has a
say in the deal even before she becomes mayor in January, has not always been fond of the stadium deal brokered by the office of outgoing mayor Vincent Gray
Objections to the land swap center around a recent study the city commissioned that suggested that the Buzzard Point land was being overvalued and the Reeves Center undervalued, both to the
city's detriment. All things being equal, Akridge also wants also the deal because it can make more off developing the Reeves Center land than it can currently at Buzzard Point.
comments to more than 100 business and civic leaders were not well received by Akridge president Matt Klein
, who told
the Washington City Paper, "I was very
disappointed. That might be the kind way to put it."
The city's only option may be eminent domain -- and buy the property at a price set up the courts. That would require the city to pay
cash -- something it doesn't have to do with a land swap.
As the Washington Business Journal reported
, leverage Bowser holds over Akridge is she's holding up
another Akridge development deal involving a charter school. Going forward with Akridge on that deal would reduce the city's cash outlay for Buzzard Point.
Klein's counter is that D.C.
risks paying far more for the land by eminent domain than even under the swap deal Bowser doesn't like. He cited
land prices in the area: $28 per square foot
negotiated for the Buzzard Point's parcel vs. $64 per square foot for Pepco land across the street purchased last year. As said before, time isn't on the side of the city if it wants to keep United
and the risk also is that the process of eminent domain will get drawn out and United could bolt town.
D.C. United's position? General partner Jason
issued the following statement after Bowser's comments: "We are encouraged by the Mayor-Elect's comments tonight and look forward to seeing her proposal. We are eager to work with her,
the other members of the Council and the Mayor to get the stadium approved before the end of the year."
“Yes, of course I am in favor -- as soon as we work out the details” is standard Washington-speak for opposition. The establishment in Washington is apprehensive about immigrants, there is minimal youth soccer in the city. Ergo, soccer is about “foreigners” and Maryland-Virginia suburbanites. DC politics sees no advantage in supporting soccer.
Time to regroup and find a suitable location in Northern Virginia near a Metro stop