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Near Southeast DC Past News Items: February 2006
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400 M ('07)
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20 M ('07)
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The Post's DC Wire blog has an entry about today's court hearing on the city's request for the right to remove the property owners from the lands taken via eminent domain in the footprint of the new baseball stadium and take full possession of the land. Interesting tidbit: "Also, Zeldon requested that a representative of DC CFO Natwar M. Gandhi discuss whether the city is ready to issue construction bonds for the project. Gandhi has said he will issue bonds only after MLB endorses the council's spending cap, which would give final approval to the lease agreement. Under the council's legislation, MLB has until March 6 to make a decision about the spending cap and stadium lease. Whether Zeldon will rule on the case before MLB makes its position known is unclear." Also, this week's Washington Blade has a follow-up on the Feb. 9 eminent domain ruling, and what the gay clubs (and their owner Robert Siegel) are going to do.
UPDATE, 11:09 am: The AP is reporting: "DC Superior Court Judge Joan Zeldon says she's prepared to evict the owners once Major League Baseball agrees to a stadium lease with the city. That decision is expected by March sixth. Zeldon has ordered several property owners fighting to keep their land to go into mediation with the DC government before then. Otherwise, the judge says she will promptly sign the land over to the city once it's certain the baseball deal will go through. "
UPDATE, 1:35 pm: Here's the Post's story on the ruling, although the headline ("Court Rejects DC Bid for Private Land") makes the ruling seem far more ominous than seems to be indicated by the text of the story.
More posts: Nationals Park
 

The South Capitol Street Environmental Impact Statement project has posted its Winter 2006 newsletter with the latest updates on the study. Two build alternatives have been identified and are briefly described--the less costly one would keep the South Capitol and M intersection in two levels, and would create a "traditional" intersection at Potomac Avenue. The second and more wide-ranging alternative would reconstruct South Capitol and M to be "at-grade", and would create a traffic circle interchange at Potomac Avenue (there are differences in the two plans for east side of the bridge as well). The various plans (the two build alternatives, plus a "Transportation System Management" alternative and a No-Build alternative) will be presented at public meetings later this winter, then there will be ANC meetings, environmental analyses, and finally the preparation of the draft EIS. In the meantime, DDOT will be discussing this project as part of its Feb. 25 Open House. Also, both the South Capitol Street EIS and the 11th Street Bridges EIS teams will present their pedestrian and bicycle concepts to a meeting of the Bicycle Advisory Council on March 8. See my South Capitol Street and South Capitol Street Bridge pages for more details, photos, links, etc.
 

Boy, it's been a quiet week on the Near Southeast front. (Almost too quiet...!) But this week's DC Register provides some very small stadium-related tibits. First, raze permits for the stadium fooprint have been filed with DCRA. Second, the city council has scheduled a hearing for March 17 on Bill 16-628, "Closing of Public Alleys In Square 702, 703, 704, 705, and 706 Act Of 2006." Of course, tomorrow (Feb. 24) is the date for an expected ruling on whether the city can now force landowners out of their properties.

More posts: Nationals Park
 

Voice of the Hill has a piece on the ANC 6D February meeting. Read it to see why it was the last ANC 6D meeting I will attend. My commitment to bringing you all the latest in Near Southeast does not extend to enduring this level of torture!
More posts:
 

You'd have to dig to find it on washingtonpost.com, but the front page of Monday's Business section has a huge graph showing the trend in commercial real estate sales in Near Southeast (and Buzzards Point) from 2000 through 2005. (Full disclosure: I did the research for it.) From 2000 through September 2004 (when DC got the Expos and the city announced that a new stadium would be built in southeast, there were 32 sales of undeveloped commercial property, totaling just under $40 million. In the 15 months after this, there were 37 sales--for nearly $219 million. It also compares two properties, right next to each other, that sold five years apart--the 45,000-sq-ft lot at 80 M Street sold for $5.5 million in 2000 (and construction began on the office building there soon afterward), while the 82,500-sq-ft block just to its north was purchased by Ron Cohen in 2005 for $51.6 million. A slight spike in prices, one might say. There's an accompanying article by Dana Hedgpeth, "Contesting a Stadium's Power," with quotes from developers, real estate professionals, and city officials as to whether the land boom in Near Southeast can really be attributed to the stadium, or whether the development would have happened anyway (albeit more slowly).

More posts: Nationals Park
 

A little late to be posting this, but I'll still pass along that on Tuesday the 21st the City Council will be voting on Bill 16-585, which is the request by Faison to close two alleys in Square 743N (the block bounded by 1st, New Jersey, L and M). Faison is wanting to build two towers in that location.
UPDATE: Oops, I was a little quick on the trigger there. The bill was *considered* at the Feb. 21 meeting, and has now been put on the March 7 agenda for its first reading and vote, with the second and final reading on April 4.
More posts: 100 M, Onyx, Square 743N
 

I've added a bunch of new pictures to my Capper Seniors page of Capper Seniors #1, the building at the bottom of the 6th Street exit ramp.
 

On March 23, the DC Historic Preservation Review Board will be holding a public hearing to consider whether to designate the Navy Yard Car Barn at 770 M Street (more popularly known as the "Blue Castle") as a historic landmark, and also to consider nominating it to the National Register of Historic Places. The hearing will be at 10 am, Room 220 South, 441 Fourth St. NW. (Remember, you can always check my Upcoming Events calendar to see what meetings, hearings, and other Near Southeast items of interest are happening.)
More posts: Blue Castle, 8th Street
 

The Washington City Paper has a big article about the eminent domain proceedings for the land in the stadium footprint: "Wild Pitch."
More posts: Nationals Park
 

In addition to the pictures I posted earlier from the site of the new baseball stadium, there's also new pictures now on my Capitol Hill Tower, DOT HQ, and 20 M Street pages. I've also got a few new shots and some additional information on the project at 801 Virginia Ave. (if you've been past there, you may have noticed that the buildings on the lot have been demolished.)
 

I hope I didn't jinx things, but on the off chance that construction on the new baseball stadium could actually begin in March (wouldn't that be a hoot?!?), I went for a nice long walk today in the beautiful weather and took what I presume are my final "before" pictures of the stadium neighborhood. The first pictures are of the perimeter of the site, which we'll be able to watch as it transforms from gritty industrial zone to demolished construction site to a stadium. The photos at the bottom of the page are of some of the businesses and buildings that have been the residents of these blocks off South Capitol Street but which will be soon replaced with bleachers, bases, bullpens, and uselessly exorbitant skyboxes. (You've got to take the good with the bad, I guess.) Anyway, enjoy the new photos. UPDATE: Oh, and by the way, I almost got arrested while taking them, as a DC policeman got all tense that I might possibly be photographing the Southeast Federal Center (which I wasn't). Because, you know, it's a government installation, and if I take pictures of it, the terrorists win. It's going to be so much fun having power-mad officers with nightsticks whacking baseball fans for daring to look at the east side of 1st Street. He asked to see my photos, but when I said, "Sure, fine, whatever, I've taken 70 already, do you want us to just stand here and look at the screen?" he got flustered and I took the opportunity to saunter off. (I'll admit I'm really just miffed that I didn't get mistaken for a prostitute, like a co-worker did when walking in the same neighborhood a few weeks back.)
More posts: Nationals Park
 

The Washington Times has "Mayor Confident of Lease Approval": "Mayor Anthony A. Williams yesterday said he believes Major League Baseball eventually will sign off on a new lease for the Washington Nationals' new ballpark and that legislation calling for a cap on city spending for the project will not be sent back to the D.C. Council. He said negotiations involving the league and more than a half-dozen city leaders are ongoing but could be wrapped up by week's end." And, once again, it's all about the parking garage: "Private developers are expected to play a key role in covering the cost of the underground parking garage because its construction will allow for retail or office space to be built at street level. By gaining developer commitments to pay for the parking, city officials hope to lessen any fears from MLB that the league will be responsible for cost overruns. [...] The underground parking is estimated to cost $55 million, but only $21 million for parking -- enough for an above-ground garage -- is in the ballpark budget. 'I think the development community will pony up, or we just won't build [underground parking],' said council member Jack Evans."

More posts: parking, Nationals Park
 

DDOT and the Anacostia Coordinating Council are holding an "Anacostia Transportation and Development Projects Information Fair," on Saturday Feb. 25 from 9 am to 2 pm, at 2616 MLK Ave., SE. It will be providing details on the plans for the Anacostia area, which include 11th Street and South Capitol Street Bridges, the Anacostia Waterfront projects and Poplar Point, as well as other projects that aren't in my Near Southeast purview. There will be bus tours of the sites, and food will be provided. Pre-registration encouraged but not required.
 

At last night's Zoning Commission hearing, approval was given for the second-stage PUD for Capper/Carrollsburg, along with some modifications to the first-stage PUD. This should be the last zoning hoop for EYA to leap through before the project gets underway. The Capitol Quarter web site now says "Coming Fall 2006." But is that when sales start, will any sort of construction begin before then? Right now, I don't know. I do hope, though, that the city gets moving and demolishes the rest of the vacant Capper buildings before EYA has to start marketing the new construction, because it appears some scary elements are squatting now in those buildings (fences have been bent back, and doors to the buildings are broken open).
 

From The Post, "D.C. Finance Chief Approves Council's Stadium Spending Cap": "D.C. Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi yesterday endorsed a baseball stadium spending cap adopted by the city council last week, saying he has no objections as long as Mayor Anthony A. Williams and Major League Baseball approve the plan. In a three-paragraph letter to Williams (D) and D.C. Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp (D), Gandhi said the council's $611 million spending limit on city funds for the project will not jeopardize his bid to get an investment-grade rating from Wall Street on the construction bonds. Gandhi said he will issue bonds once baseball officials, who are conducting their own review of the spending cap, endorse the deal and sign a final copy of the stadium lease agreement." Next step, MLB. The article also discusses the path to making the emergency legislation permanent, and also addressing some "minor" issues that arose from the Midnight Madness Session a few days back.

More posts: Nationals Park
 

"Stadium Cost Cap Concerns MLB" is Saturday's Post story, describing a letter from Bob DuPuy to Mayor Williams, as well as indications that Jerry Reinsdorf wants to take the city to arbitration, while DuPuy is more conciliatory. We also now appear to be worried about the funding of a parking garage. I think we need a snowstorm to make everyone take a take a few hours off from it all. UPDATE: The Washington Times story says about the same thing.
More posts: parking, Nationals Park
 

JPI is not wasting time with their plans for a big residential development at 70 I Street, SE; they're going before ANC6D on Monday, and the Bureau of Zoning Adjustment on March 14, and today they've submitted a building permit application for the project. Plans are for two towers and 700+ units; the company has said in various news articles that they plan to start construction this summer. As soon as I can get my hands on a rendering, I'll create a new page for the project.

More posts: 70/100 I, ANC News, jpi, zoning
 

The city council has released the four-page Stadium Cap amendment passed in the wee hours on Tuesday night. A 4:00 pm Post story about the release says that as of early today, baseball officials said they had not seen the legislation; don't know if that has changed.
UPDATE, 5:55 pm: An AP wire story says that MLB has now received the documents, but that they will not issue a response until Friday, at the earliest. But who knows, someone might whisper to someone, and we'll hear about it sooner.
UPDATE, 10: 55 pm: The print version of the Post's story is now available, now including some choice words from Bud Selig: " 'When it comes to demagoguery, a lot of what happened down there would have made Huey Long blush.' "
UPDATE, 2:20 am: And here is the WashTimes story, " MLB Receives Stadium Lease Papers." On the issue of a new team owner perhaps being on the hook for cost overruns: "Last year, MLB accepted bids from eight groups for the team, and settled on a $450 million sale price based on terms that included a ballpark fully financed by the city. If MLB accepts the cap legislation, it might then ask bidders if they would still meet that price, even if they are vulnerable to being responsible for cost overruns. 'This might knock that [$450 million] price right out the window,' said one bidder."
More posts: Nationals Park
 

Let's see if I can remember how to post an entry that doesn't have to do with the stadium... ANC 6D has posted its February Meeting agenda, which has a number of Near Southeast items. First, there will be a presentation by the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation on their plans. Then there will be a (re?)discussion of the proposed alley closings on Square 743N petitioned for by Faison to allow for the construction of two towers on 1st Street. There will also be presentation on the BZA application for the planned JPI residential project at 70/100 Street SE, which should give us our first peek at what's being planned for that site. Finally, there is a public space permit application by the Courtyard by Marriott hotel at 1st and L streets SE for a sidewalk cafe (which might be just fancy talk for an outdoor seating area connected to any food service the hotel will be having). The ANC meeting is on Monday, Feb. 13 at 7 pm, at 65 I Street SW.

 

I can't believe how many times and in how many places I've read in the past few days that the new baseball stadium will be built in Southwest DC, which is 100% incorrect. So let's all review the following, commit it to memory, and make sure to tell your friends, neighbors, enemies, local reporters, etc.:

The new Nationals baseball stadium will be built in SOUTHEAST DC.

And:
It will NOT be built in the "Anacostia" section of Southeast DC; it will be near the Anacostia River, but will be WEST of the river, not EAST.

Thank you. We now return your to your regularly scheduled programming.

More posts: Nationals Park
 

The Feb. 10 DC Register includes the following: "The Council of the District of Columbia hereby gives notice of its intention to take action in less than fiften (15) days on PR16-641, the "Design Build and Completion Guarantee Agreement fo the DC Major League Baseball Park Approval Resolution of 2006". The Council needs to act on this resolution expeditiously in order to avoid delays in the planning and construction of the ballpark."
More posts: Nationals Park
 

WTOP is reporting "Court Ruling Clears Way for Stadium Plans": "In the appeal, the Siegel Group asked the court for an injunction in D.C.'s eminent domain case, citing that the city does not have the right to take land from owners and that the District under-appraised the value of the land. In its ruling, the court said decisions about eminent domain rest with the mayor and the city council and that courts do not have the authority to second guess the city's decisions. The court also ruled that the District's estimates of the land value were made in good faith." There is still the Feb. 24 court hearing on "the District's motion to take possession of the disputed land parcels. The judge in that hearing will determine the date that owners must vacate the land so the city can begin construction. After the Feb. 24 hearing, subsequent valuations trials will be held to determine the fair market price the city must pay land owners." UPDATE: Here is the Mayor's press release.

More posts: Nationals Park
 

The WashTimes Day 2 story also has actual information about the stadium construction, which of course is all I was ever really interested in :). "The construction team [...] has told the city it would like to begin preparing the site for construction by March 1. But first, the city must gain possession of 14 acres at the ballpark site. It filed a court order in D.C. Superior Court asking a judge to force out property owners by last Tuesday, but a ruling is not expected until Feb. 24. The city is focused on acquiring land in the south section of the ballpark site first because that is where the heaviest construction must take place. Meanwhile, in a somewhat surprising development, consultants hired by the sports commission to handle environmental remediation on the ballpark site have reduced their fee from $8 million to about $6.3 million because initial tests of the site do not show as much contamination as expected[...]. Heavy environmental problems had been expected because of the presence of an asphalt plant, trash transfer facility and other industrial buildings."
More posts: Nationals Park
 

We'll kick off with Marc Fisher's Thursday Post column (available early on the web), "Stadium Wrangling in Drama City."
UPDATE, 7:49 pm: Another column, this one from the WashTimes's Thom Loverro ("Late Reversal Nothing New")--and, for the heck of it, here's the WashTimes's Wednesday piece on the lease approval.
UPDATE, 10:17 pm: The Post has "Reeling and Dealing on Stadium," with some good old-fashioned DC fingerpointing between the Mayor and the Council and a little amongst council members themselves as to how the lease agreement came so close to falling apart.
UPDATE, 10:54 pm: Here's the Post's main stadium story for the day, "Stadium Lease Deal Leaves Questions." The main points: MLB still hasn't received the full documents and are saying they are "very concerned," and the city CFO has not yet reviewed the cap and may not be able to sell construction bonds for another 4-6 weeks. Then there's the construction timetable, with the not-really-surprising statement: "Some city officials have begun talking about the possibility that the stadium will not be ready for the Nationals until the middle of the 2008 season, around the All-Star Game break." And of course there's the choice of an ownership group for the team; " 'Baseball has told us it will be done expeditiously,' said Mark H. Tuohey, chairman of the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission. 'I interpreted that to mean a matter of a few weeks.' " We'll see whether any of this is more than just the little potholes we've gotten used on this long, strange trip. And check out the fun timeline graphic!
UPDATE, 1:44 am: And we close out with the WashTimes's "Ballpark Lease Concerns Baseball," quoting the same written statement from MLB that the Post used, plus a bit of analysis: "MLB's support for the cost cap likely depends on whether officials believe the team owner will be stuck with overruns. The cap legislation allows for the team's owner to pay for overruns but does not require it. Overruns also could be paid for by other outside entities, such as the federal government or private developers, or through savings on the construction of the stadium's structure." And: "If MLB approves of the lease and cost cap, the league could name an owner within weeks, Tuohey said. Other city and industry sources were more skeptical, believing the league will name an owner only after construction of the stadium is under way."

More posts: Nationals Park
 

Another babystep forward: " District officials say Major League Baseball is pleased with the final vote taken by the D.C. Council on the proposed stadium lease. Mayor Tony Williams says some final details remain to be worked out, but he believes MLB officials will sign the lease soon. Williams says groundbreaking at the stadium site is likely to come some time this spring. "
More posts: Nationals Park
 

The Washington Blade has posted "Graham withdraws bill to aid O St. clubs", explaining Graham's realization that he was incorrect in believing that "changing the citys liquor law could clear the way for the O Street clubs that offer nude dancing to move to a zone similar to the one in which they are now located. Graham said he has learned since introducing the bill that the city's zoning regulations prevent the clubs from moving anyplace other than the central business district and nearby streets, and they must obtain a special variance from the D.C. Board of Zoning Appeals to move there." In related news, there's been no word as to whether Judge Zeldon has ruled on the city's request to order the eviction of all occupants of the stadium site.
 

So, what does all of the torrent of words below mean? The short of it is, after initially defeating the stadium lease agreement 8-5 at 8 pm, the DC Council returned to the chambers at 10:00 pm and worked through the emergency cap legislation enough to satisfy council members Schwartz, Gray, Brown, and Barry, who switched their votes to allow the legislation to pass 9-4 at 12:40 am. The gist is that they passed the stadium lease agreement as given to them by the Mayor and MLB, but added an amendment to it capping the city's costs at $611 million. If the Mayor and/or MLB do not indicate their acceptance of the cap amendment by March 6, the council's approval of the lease will be invalidated. So now we wait for that shoe to drop. The stadium saga is not finished yet, but it's also not circling the drain, like it looked to be earlier this evening. And, if MLB does agree, look for a team owner to be announced quickly, and also (I'm guessing) a floodgate of new development plans and deals in Near Southeast, which have been on hold awaiting the stadium resolution. Then there will be the design, and the zoning, and the eminent domain fights, and yadda yadda yadda.... But let's not think about that right now.

More posts: Nationals Park
 

Okay, rewind, reset. Let's now bring together the stories about the stadium lease passing, with a $611 million cap. The AP's story is "Council Reverses Course on Stadium Lease Deal," with a good overview of what happened and why. The Post right now has "Council Closer to Deal on Stadium" (no doubt to be updated with the final outcome of the evening), as well as "After Day of Talks, Council Ends Up in Chaos", explain how an 8-5 defeat at 8 pm turned into a 9-4 passage at 12:40 am. Of course, this is all still contingent on the Mayor and MLB saying that the council's legislation is acceptable, which they have until March 6 to do. And even though it was written before the turnaround, you should still read Boswell's "One Horribly Botched Play" to get a feel for the anger from MLB over the initial defeat of the lease. The WashTimes currently still has its pre-approval story, "Council Rejects Stadium Lease," although it was written after the council returned to re-open debate and so includes some details about the eventually successful cap amendment. What a wild day. Now we wait to hear from MLB.
More posts: Nationals Park
 

UPDATE, 12:43 pm: And now the stadium lease agreement passes, amended to include the cap, 9-4.
UPDATE, 12:20 pm: The revamped emergency cap legislation now passes, 9-4 (or at least it will, in a few seconds ;-) ). There will be plenty of stories about what is in it, but I'll just note that it says that the Mayor and MLB have until March 6 to indicate that they agree with the cap legislation, otherwise the lease is disapproved.
UPDATE, 11:19 pm: The council is still going....
UPDATE, 10:13 pm: Hey, wait a minute, the council is back in chambers, talking about the stadium again!
Tracking the stories on the failed lease vote: Here is the first full AP story, "DC Council Says No to Latest Stadium Lease Proposal." And, while it's opinion and not news, Marc Fisher's Raw Fisher blog entry on the vote, "No Joy in Mudville," is worth a read.
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More posts: Nationals Park
 

And just like that, the lease vote failed. They didn't vote on the emergency cap bill, went to the lease agreement, and it failed, 8-5. I will leave it to the Post and other media outlets to tell us What It Means, and will post their stories. Until then, the BallparkGuys.com Nats board will be discussing it in detail, I imagine. UPDATE: But I will add, before people start flinging themselves off of buildings, that the Nats won't be packing up tomorrow. There is still arbitration to go through, and MLB would have a hard time finding another jurisdiction that will give them a deal anywhere close to what DC offered. For those who wanted this settled NOW, this is a bad day, but there is still light at the end of the tunnel. Besides, maybe now Bud Selig will just go ahead and name an owner for the team, which would change the negotiation dynamic considerably....
More posts: Nationals Park
 

Stadium Vote Updates thread.
UPDATE, 8:24 pm: They're back in the council chamber. Turn on the feed.
UPDATE, 8:20 pm: Now approaching the 2.5-hour mark in their 30-minute recess. The AP says that the councilmembers have spent the past two hours "haggling over the wording of emergency legislation limiting the cost of the project." I hope they're haggling to get the reference to MLB out of the cap, otherwise all this will be for naught.
UPDATE, 7:47 pm: No, they're not back, but if you couldn't watch the session earlier today (or couldn't bear too), Just a Nats Fan was live-blogging.
UPDATE, 7:40 pm: Still in recess/private session. I haven't abandoned you :-).
UPDATE, 6:25 pm: The council is in recess after a very contentious session. They may come back to vote on the emergency cap, otherwise a vote on the lease agreement itself tonight would appear to be doomed (Vincent Orange having said as much to the Associated Press). The council is now in a private session.
UPDATE, 4:19 pm: It appears that the lease agreement (PR-619) is starting to be discussed at the council right now, but this could just be an initial procedural move. Turn on the feed :-).
UPDATE, 3:35 pm: The Post's DC Wire blog has an update from David Nakamura--I can't even summarize it, it talks about Cropp's cap bill possibly putting MLB on the hook for cost overruns, which will be unacceptable to the mayor and to MLB, so it would be possible that the pro-stadium forces would vote the cap down, then just try for an up-or-down 7-votes-needed vote on the lease. But negotiating is still going on....
UPDATE, 2:49 pm: The Post has an updated version of last night's story posted, now including all events since last night. A quote: "By packaging the council's cost cap with the lease, Cropp said the council will take just one vote on the stadium deal today and it will require nine votes among the 13-member body for approval."
UPDATE, 2:05 pm: A Reuters story quotes Linda Cropp: "The citizens need to know where the council stands on baseball in the District of Columbia. We will vote up or down today." The article also says: "The emergency legislation requires the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission to certify by March 7 that any hard construction costs over $300 million be paid by the team owner, savings from re-engineering or federal, private or other non-local funds."
UPDATE, 1:03 pm: A story on WTOP's web site says that Adrian Fenty believes there are enough votes to pass the (emergency?) legislation. And, just to add to the fun, the article also says: "But if the District cannot pass the lease, WTOP has learned that Virginia is ready to make a move. A spokesman for Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine tells WTOP he would be interested in pursuing the Nationals for Northern Virginia if D.C. is unable to approve the lease."
UPDATE, 11:56 am: Mayor Bow Tie is not happy with the consultant that the Council picked to review the lease and construction agreements, because he also worked for the Virginia Baseball Stadium Authority when Virginia was trying to get the Expos. Here is the mayor's press release.
UPDATE, 11:44 am: AP reports: "Members of the D-C Council may not vote on a proposed stadium lease today. Councilman Marion Barry says the lease proposal could be tabled in favor of a proposed emergency session. That would enable the Council to consider emergency legislation capping the District's costs for a new ballpark. Barry says if there was a vote on the proposed lease right now, there would not be enough votes to pass the measure. Councilman Adrian Fenty says he doesn't know if there are the nine votes needed to approve emergency legislation to establish the cap. Councilman Phil Mendelson says that could amendments might have to be introduced during the emergency session to get enough support."
UPDATE, 11:24 am: Go ahead and get your lunch, and maybe your dinner--it appears that the council will handle all of its other business first, then move to the stadium.
10:30 am: According to David Nakamura on the Post's DC Wire Blog, the council chambers are beginning to fill up, and the session should get underway soon. He also says: "Council staff, along with Mayor Williams's aides, the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission and a council-hired consultant, worked late into the night and early this morning on the new stadium cap that Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp wants her colleagues to approve." He says it's unclear whether Cropp has the 9 votes needed to pass the cap as emergency legislation. According to David, the emergency cap vote should come first in the session, with the lease vote coming later in the day.

More posts: Nationals Park
 

The Washington Times has a piece today (which had better be a column and not a straight news story) called "Stadium will rob neighborhood of its history", detailing what it says is all of the history that will be lost in "Southwest" because of the stadium and other development. I must say I would give the article a bit more credence if it realized that the stadium, St. Paul's church, the Navy Yard, Ken Wyban's house, and Capper Seniors #1 are all in fact in SouthEAST, not Southwest. And it's wrong about Capper/Carrollsburg residents needing $80,000 incomes to return to the new public housing to be built. (It's rather stunning that this level of misinformation and outright error can get into a paper.) It does mention that a lecture will be given by Carroll R. Gibbs called "Vanished Past, Hidden Present: The Black History the New Stadium Will Hide" at the MLK Library on Feb. 21 at 7 pm and again at the Lamond-Riggs branch on Feb. 23 at 7 pm.
More posts: staddis, Nationals Park
 

In case your weekly appointment to have bamboo shoots stuffed under your fingernails has been cancelled, you can get the same result by watching Tuesday's DC Council stadium proceedings live, either online or on DC Cable 13.
More posts: Nationals Park
 

An alert from the Associated Press: "D.C. Council Chair Linda W. Cropp will introduce emergency legislation on Tuesday that would cap the city's contribution to a Nationals baseball stadium at $300 million." The question is if this is just on the construction agreement, or the stadium lease agreement. If it's the lease agreement, there will probably be trouble with MLB; if it's the construction agreement, then there's probably room for maneuvering. Will post more as it comes along. UPDATE: Here is the Post's article, "D.C. Council Insists on Own Stadium Cost Cap." From the article: "The legislation, Cropp said, would cap the city's payments for labor and materials for the ballpark at $300 million, along with an additional $20 million that MLB promised in December. Williams (D) offered the same cap last week, but council members said the mayor's cap has loopholes. The council is also considering capping the project's entire cost at between $589 million and $630 million, council members said. Emergency legislation would require nine votes among the council's 13 members for approval." And: "If the council does not approve the lease today, baseball officials might choose to pursue full arbitration, which could take up to six months to resolve." And, my own personal favorite: "During the council's closed-door meeting, which grew louder as it progressed, Cropp could be heard admonishing her colleagues. 'I'm sick of this,' she told them. 'Every time we move somewhere, you keep adding something else. I'm sick of it. I want you people to either vote it up or vote it down.' " UPDATE: Here is the WashTimes story, covering most of the same bases.
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A quick note that the Post has started a blog on DC politics called "DC Wire", and one of the first entries today was from David Nakamura about the baseball stadium (although the entry itself has been somewhat scooped by the events of this evening).

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The FY2007 Federal Budget, released today, includes $20 million for upgrading the Navy Yard Metro station, one of the many sticking points for council members as they fought to make sure that no money from the city's general fund will go toward any of the costs of the new baseball stadium. Here is the mayor's press release.
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David Nakamura, who covers the Nationals/Metro beat for the Post (meaning the stadium, how the city government interacts with the team, etc.), is doing a Live Online Chat about the stadium.
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The Washington Blade has posted on its blog "Last weekend for D.C.'s legendary O Street bars?", which discusses the Feb. 7 move-out date that the city is hoping to enforce, awaiting a judge's decision. From the article: "Should the judge rule in favor of the mayor's court motion, Williams could still postpone the evictions until it becomes certain that the stadium deal take place. Among other impacts, nearly a hundred people employed by the six clubs face the immediate loss of their jobs if the clubs are forced to close. A postponement of the evictions would also give patrons and employees time to prepare of a grand finale befitting the clubs' history and impact on the community they have served for so long." The entry also gives a brief history of the clubs.
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"Williams Revises Stadium Cost Plan" is on Saturday's front page of the Post, an updated and expanded version of the article posted this afternoon. Linda Cropp is "cautiously optimistic," Vincent Gray and Kwame Brown say they want to review the documents before making a decision, and Jim Graham says that if the $55 million coming from developers for the rights to build on the stadium footprint weren't being used for that, it'd be used for other purposes, so "We're still taking out of our own pockets for baseball." (Uh, except that if there were no stadium, those lots wouldn't be worth $70 million, and it wouldn't be a cinch for the developers to buy them, and they wouldn't be buying them from the city.) Note the lack of comment (in the Post, anyway) from David Catania or Marion Barry. UPDATE: Marion Barry and Kwame Brown appear unmoved, according to the WashTimes in "Council Receives Lease Documents." Tuesday will indeed be D-Day.

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The Mayor's Newsletter has just been released, with the first page being about the stadium. It gives bullet points about the lease agreement, which I think are worth emphasizing.
The new provisions include:
· A cap on the total construction costs of the ballpark will be put into place and approved by the Council.
· Residents will not be taxed to pay for the ballpark.
· The District may use property on the ballpark site for private development.
· MLB agrees to help create a new youth baseball academy with a $3.5 million contribution.
· MLB agrees to increase the number of free tickets given to DC youth from 8,000 to 10,000 per year.
· MLB agrees to hold a meeting in the District of all team owners before the summer of 2008.
· Players will make a minimum of 50 youth, educational or charitable appearances a year in the District.

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New from the Post: "Developers have offered to pay the District $70 million for the rights to build on land adjacent to a new baseball stadium, money that city leaders said will help cover potential cost overruns on the project. ... [D]evelopers have pledged to pay for the rights to develop on land within the 20 acres needed for the stadium project that is not taken up by the ballpark structure. Of the $70 million, $55 million will go to the waterfront corporation and $15 million will go to MLB. [...] With the money, the corporation will pay for upgrades to nearby roads and an underground parking garage. The corporation also pledged to pay for cost overruns related to the city's acquisition of 14 acres for the ballpark and potential environmental remediation, as well as to help with other potential overruns related to construction." Also, the council is supposed to get today a construction contract "between the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission and the three construction companies set to build the stadium, was to include a special "guaranteed maximum price" contract that would cap ballpark construction costs at $320 million -- including a $20 million payment from MLB." This would appear to be a big step toward alleviating some of the council's disagreements with the lease, but we will see how it shakes out. UPDATE, 4:22 pm: The Post has updated its story to say that the construction contract has been sent to the council as well: "The contract transfers the control of the project from the city to the construction companies, but also transfers the risk. The companies agreed to a guaranteed price of $320 million for the materials and labor. The price includes a $20 million payment from Major League Baseball, which the league promised in December. If the companies fail to complete the stadium by March 1, 2008, their fees will be reduced by $100,000 per day, up to a maximum penalty of $5 million, according to the documents submitted to the council. The documents also include a cap of $68 million for so-call "soft construction costs," including fees to architects and consultants."

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The Post's District Extra's cover story today is "Landowners in Stadium's Path Fight to Stay Put", the stories of three of the people who are being forced off their properties as the stadium moves forward (or does it?). Accompanying the story is a timeline of the eminent domain seizures.
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Let's move to the Thursday stories on the stadium battle. In the Post, we have "Private Stadium Funding Canceled, Deutsche Bank Deal Collapses": "A District government plan to use $246 million in private financing from Deutsche Bank to help build a new baseball stadium has collapsed, a political blow to the D.C. Council, which spent months pushing to reduce public investment in the project. D.C. Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi said the deal has been called off in part because the bank was seeking a $5 million fee to structure the financing arrangement. But another complication emerged yesterday when bank spokesman Ted Meyer said the bank had a signed contract with the District and remains entitled to the payment if the city uses the bank's strategy." (What? A snafu surrounding the stadium? How un-US-u-al!) The article is chock full of council members backpedaling like mad from the Deutsche Bank private financing plan, which of course was not part of Mayor Williams's original financing plan, it was added after the council insisted on private financing options being investigated. UPDATE: The WashTimes's story is "Mayor: Lease vote will go off Tuesday", saying that the council should have by Friday the information they need on the plans to have the construction companies and the AWC be responsible for construction/land acquisition cost overruns (although the contracts themselves may not be done by then). Some council members are expressing skepticism. If the council vote fails, the city will have to go to arbitration with Major League Baseball. Fasten your seat belts. it's going to be a bumpy ride.
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Today's lease stories: from The Post, "Stadium Pact To Be Revised For Financing," and from the WashTimes, "Council fails to reach deal on stadium lease." No one is leaping up and down with joy about the new agreement, and while Mayor Bow Tie says he'll get the documentation about the construction agreement to the council by Friday, council members appear to be suspicious of any promises that aren't backed up with legally binding documents, so a Feb. 7 vote is looking kind of iffy. UPDATE: And here is the AP story on the mayor's comments during his weekly briefing today. Guess what? He's optimistic! UPDATE, 9:50 pm: NBC 4 says that Mayor Tony is getting tired of it all, and saying that it's time to put up or shut up, and vote on the agreeement: "I think it's now time to have a vote. I do not have any intention whatsoever this time of withdrawing the legislation. I think we just need to have a vote. And if you want baseball, this is what we have."
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