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This is a couple of days old, apologies for being slow, I'm going to be a bit behind on the blog here until early next week. There were two stories from Thursday about the latest news on the new baseball stadium -- the Post's "Nationals Say No to Underground Parking," which not only gives the bad news that the Lerners have firmly said that the parking on the stadium site must be in above-ground garages in order to ensure that it is ready in time for the opening of the stadium in 2008, but also that nearly half of the construction contingencies fund has just been allocated--"The commission's board of directors voted to spend $2.9 million in contingencies to help remediate unexpected environmental problems at the site after workers found 53 unreported tanks of oil under the soil. The board also agreed to spend $6.5 million to help create retail space along First Street SE, a concept mandated by the D.C. Zoning Commission." I was glad, however, to see this emphasized in the article as well: "Bobb said that no final decision has been made and stressed that the ballpark entertainment district will extend far beyond the parking garages, so the city can benefit even if parking is built aboveground." (Some articles have left the impression that the parking garages would take up the entire "entertainment district", which isn't true.) The parking garage issue might not be 100% settled, especially with the looming June 26 Zoning Commission hearing on the stadium--although I don't know whether the ZC would have the power to scuttle the garages. As for the unexpected Hazmat expenses, see this WashTimes story for more detail.

More posts: parking, Nationals Park, zoning
 

the Post's DC Wire blog reports today that Mayor Williams has proposed an Office of Baseball, at a cost of $750,000. Why? As DCist succinctly puts it, "Essentially, this new Office of Baseball will serve to mediate conflicts between the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission, the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation, and the Lerner family." (The brewing battle over the stadium's parking garages shows that the three groups aren't exactly on the same page.) But, in a stunner, the DC Council appears uninterested in shelling out another batch of dough having to do with the stadium.
UPDATE: Speaking of the stadium, Clark/Hunt/Smoot has now posted the final version of the Project Labor Agreement, signed back in late March.
UPDATE II: Here's the Post's piece on the Office of Baseball, and the WashTimes piece, which seems to have the most information (including that Williams has already signed an executive order creating the office). It also includes some info on the parking garages debate: "City Administrator Robert Bobb said District officials planned to meet with the Lerners and officials from the Anacostia Waterfront Corp. yesterday and today to discuss possible solutions to the parking question. He said the groups would reach an agreement about the placement of the parking structure by this afternoon and that the plans would be complete when submitted to the National Capitol Planning Commission tomorrow." (Which tells me that NCPC didn't remind me to look at their agenda for today's meeting! Waah! There's a request for "approval of preliminary and final site and building plans" for the stadium.)
More posts: parking, Nationals Park
 

"Owners Want City to Shift Gears on Parking," from today's Post, tells that the Lerners want the parking structures that are part of the stadium site to be built aboveground, while city planners have been pushing to have the garages moved underground so as not to take up precious space with the boxy structures. The stadium's budget calls for two aboveground parking lots, along the north side of the stadium site on N Street, and the Lerners seem concerned that the parking be done in time for the stadium opening, which would be harder to do if the parking garages were belowground (not to mention the extra millions of dollars it would cost--out of the Lerners's pockets--to move them underground). The city is trying to negotiate a compromise. We shall see.... (It should be noted that, despite how the article reads, these structures would not replace the "Ballpark District"--there are still the blocks north of M Street between South Capitol and 1st that are part of the Ballpark District planning of the AWC--this would just mean that the very northern part of the stadium site, along N Street, wouldn't have additional entertainment offerings.)

More posts: parking, Nationals Park
 

The Post's Marc Fisher has a column today about the stadium and its environs, "South Capitol Street Will Have to Play Catch-Up": "But the plans released this week are a vision of the future, and indeed the District has an impressive concept for a new Anacostia River bridge and a reconfiguration of South Capitol Street that would replace the ugly ramp with green space. The truth, however, is that for quite some years, the stadium will come smack up against the city's befouled underside." He also was wise enough to catch the sleight-of-hand in the stadium design drawings: "[B]oth Metro riders and motorists will approach from the north, where, rather than a grand entrance, the architects offer a cramped plaza sandwiched between two boxy parking structures. But wait: Those boxes are really a political ploy and a sales pitch. The D.C. Council nixed the money for underground parking, but designers nonetheless intend to put the parking below ground, as they should. The ghastly parking towers are in the drawings to scare the Nationals' new owner and developers into coughing up the $28 million needed to dig the hole for parking; investors would then get the right to build retail, residential or offices above the garage." His Raw Fisher blog has a follow-up about the column as well. (And gives this site quite the nice shout-out, too.)
Just as a follow-up, last Friday I posted an entry (lost in the stadium avalanche) about a DDOT press release describing the interim work to be done on the Frederick Douglass Bridge this year, including: "In addition two blocks of the elevated viaduct will be removed and replaced with an at-grade roadway, greatly improving the appearance and pedestrian access along South Capitol Street." This means that they'll somehow jigger the ramp (pardon the technical talk) to start/end at Potomac Avenue, rather than O Street, so that the cool knife-edge portion of the stadium won't be nestled next to a viaduct for four years or so. Now this I can't wait to see.
 

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
 

"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
 

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."

More posts: parking, Nationals Park
 

ANC 6D has released the agenda for its December 12 meeting. Items of Near Southeast interest include: an update from DDOT on traffic and parking and the new baseball stadium; an Office of Planning presentation on the proposed text amendment to the Capitol Gateway Overlay; a Public Space Permit Application for an emergency generator at Capper/Carrollsburg; and a ABC License Renewal for the 3rd and K Market. The meeting is at 65 I Street SW, at 7 pm. UPDATE: Agenda now posted. UPDATE II: You can read a report on ANC 6D's November meeting (with discussions of Capper/Carrollsburg, the stadium, and Florida Rock) in December's Hill Rag (page 5 of this PDF).

 
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