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Near Southeast DC Past News Items: Nationals Park
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Homewood Suites Hotel
82 I
Yards/Parcel A
Florida Rock
1244 South Capitol
Ballpark Square
Virginia Ave. Tunnel
New Douglass Bridge
Southeast Blvd.
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Yards/Icon Theater
1333 M St.
New Barracks
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Capper Apts.
250 M St.
Nat'l Community Church
909 Half St.
Factory 202/Yards
Congressional Square
1000 South Capitol
SC1100
Completed
Twelve12/Yards ('14)
Lumber Shed ('13)
Boilermaker Shops ('13)
Camden South Capitol ('13)
Canal Park ('12)
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225 Virginia/200 I ('12)
Foundry Lofts ('12)
1015 Half Street ('10)
Yards Park ('10)
Velocity Condos ('09)
Teague Park ('09)
909 New Jersey Ave. ('09)
55 M ('09)
100 M ('08)
Onyx ('08)
70/100 I ('08)
Nationals Park ('08)
Seniors Bldg Demo ('07)
400 M ('07)
Douglass Bridge Fix ('07)
US DOT HQ ('07)
20 M ('07)
Capper Seniors 1 ('06)
Capitol Hill Tower ('06)
Courtyard/Marriott ('06)
Marine Barracks ('04)
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As expected, the DC Sports and Entertainment Commission has chosen HOK Sport (along with Devrouax & Purnell Architects/Planners of DC) as the architects for the new Nationals baseball stadium. They promise a design that will "change the paradigm of ballparks" and will be "iconic and truly distinctive to Washington, D.C." There are no designs or drawings as yet. For more details, read articles in the Post ("Architects Promise Visionary Ballpark") and WashTimes ("Ballpark Will be 'Iconic'"). Also, on March 29, the DC CFO released a revised cost analysis for the entire stadium project, pegging it at $581 million (read Post story for more info).

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How to finance the new Nationals baseball stadium is the story of the day:
· DC Chief Financial Officer Natwar Gandhi released his Alternative Financing Plans for Baseball Stadium Final Report (or you can read "District Skeptical On Financing Deals" [WashPost, 3/16/05]). The CFO has certified two of the eight proposals for private financing for the stadium--the plans by Deutsche Bank and The Gates Group. (See also a Dec. 18 Post story detailing the Gates Group proposal.) Gandhi and the mayor's office will work together to meet a 15-day deadline to determine which of the three plans (the two newly certified private plans plus the original public financing plan) offers the least expensive way to finance the stadium. (The Herbert S. Miller plan to create a "baseball village", which had received much publicity, was not approved.)
· And, according to the Washington Times, "by the end of this week Gandhi also is expected to issue a report re-evaluating the projected costs for land acquisition, environmental remediation and infrastructure development for the new stadium. If the estimated cost, previously pegged by Mr. Gandhi at $115 million, exceeds $165 million, D.C. officials must search for a less expensive site. " So, that will be fun.
· Finally, The WashTimes also says that a recommendation for the new stadium's architect should arrive later this week, with a formal ratification by the DC Sports and Entertainment Commission early next week.
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Next week should bring two milestones in the drive to put the Nationals' new stadium in Near Southeast: the expected decision on an architect, as well as CFO Natwar Gandhi's final evaluation of the 8 proposals for private funding of the stadium project. The Post has had articles in the past two days on each: Marc Fisher's column "Grand Plan For Ballpark Raises Stakes" about developer Herbert S. Miller's plan to "build a baseball village -- an urban center with 750 apartments, plus restaurants, clubs, small shops, hotels and a few big-box retailers". Today, David Nakamura writes "Stadium Architects Fear More of the Same," about the feelings that architectural firm HOK Sport, which has designed 10 of the last 14 stadiums built for Major League Baseball, has been given the inside track on the project, with the need for speed perhaps trumping the desire for "a modern and memorable design." (JD editorial note: I have to admit that I like the Camden Yards/retro-brick stadium look, and I'm not sure how much DC really needs to be on the stadium design forefront, with a "soaring glass and steel" architecture. But we'll see what is put forward.)

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The DC Sports and Entertainment Commission has been interviewing architects for the construction of the new Nationals Stadium. Eight firms entered bids, and three finalists (HOK Sport, HKS Inc., and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill) are being interviewed today and tomorrow. The winner will be selected in about a week. See Ballpark Design Bids Cut to Three (Washington Times).

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In addition to trying to decide on the design of the new baseball stadium, DC officials also are now evaluating the eight private financing schemes that have been submitted. Today's Post ("'Big Boxes' Part of Stadium Pitch") details developer Herbert S. Miller's proposal of "developing the land surrounding the planned ballpark in Southeast with the large-scale retailers [like Wal-Mart or Costco], a variety of smaller stores and restaurants, 450 loft apartments, 780,000 square feet of office space and a 250-room hotel." This would be accomplished by having the city acquire all of the land south of M, north of Potomac Avenue, east of South Capitol Street, and west of First Street and giving it to him. The city's chief financial officer has until March 15 to decide whether any of the private financing proposals are feasible. Miller is the developer behind the new Gallery Place as well as Potomac Mills.

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Good piece in Sunday's Post ("DC Seeks 'Signature' Ballpark") on what DC is looking for in the design of the new Washington Nationals baseball stadium. Proposals are due by February 15, and the city plans to choose a chief architect for the project by Feb. 28. If you want to know more specifics, you can plow through the Request for Proposals.

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The baseball angst of the past week appears to have been resolved, and the council voted today to amend the stadium financing bill in a way deemed to be acceptable by Major League Baseball. As for the winner of the Most Unintentionally Hilarious Statement, that would be Linda Cropp of course, saying that she's not expecting any surprises but "you never know till the last vote is taken." Gee, what experience has she had with expected votes being scuttled at the last minute?

I'll note here that of course private financing is a better solution for DC, but I just wish it hadn't had to be done in such a typical DC fashion. Let's put it this way--Tony Williams would never have gotten MLB to bring the team to DC without pledging public financing, so all the griping about his "rolling over for MLB" is a bit misguided. It's all part of the kabuki theater of government--MLB had him over a barrel, so he had to get them into an agreement, then once he did, there was then leverage for the city to tweak. Not much leverage, granted (this is MLB after all), but enough. It would have been nice if there had been a grand plan for all of this instead of making DC look like a bunch of doofuses, but in this case I'll take the ends even while detesting the means.

Now, let's start talking about exactly how likely it is that there will be a new stadium ready for play in April, 2008! (You know me, I'm an optimist.)

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On Friday 12/3 Major League Baseball owners approved the move of the Montreal Expos to DC, provided DC meets the terms agreed to by MLB and Mayor Williams back in September. On Tuesday 11/30 the DC city council approved the "first reading" of the stadium financing bill 6-4 (with 3 voting "present", the wusses), with a few amendments. The final vote has been scheduled for Dec. 14. I'm too tired of all of it to go into the specifics--The Post's Nationals page will give you all the details.

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News continues to pick up:
· Linda Cropp appears to be backpedaling, and now says she supports the Mayor's baseball stadium financing plan but wants to "explore" private financing options.
· Demolition continues at Capper/Carrollsburg between 4th and 5th Streets. The section south of L is about 70% demolished, and work began today on the section north of L Street. A worker told me that the demolition phase is expected to last about 90 days, and will also include demolishing the buildings on the southwest corner of 3rd and L. (I presume this is to help clear the way for construction of 250 M Street, but I don't know for sure.)
· A Lerner Enterprises new press release included a tidbit that construction of 20 M Street SE will start in Spring, 2005. There didn't seem to be any hint of it in a recent WBJ article on the area, so I'm a bit skeptical, but we'll see. Maybe the pending arrival of the baseball stadium has jump-started their market.
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DC Council chair Linda Cropp has delayed for two weeks the vote on the baseball stadium plan, which was supposed to happen today (and for which Mayor Williams had the necessary seven votes to pass). She now says that she has a new plan for financing at the South Capitol Street site. Whatever. Hope she's enjoying her newfound power-hungry-ness. At least it sounds like her RFK/Reservation 13 alternate plan is dead.

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My my my, they're coming to town. DC got the Expos. Our long metropolitan nightmare is over. Now let's see if Tony can get the stadium approved by the City Council. (Only then will I take the question mark off the graphic at right!)

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Baseball coming to Near Southeast? "District officials disclosed plans yesterday to build a publicly financed stadium costing more than $400 million on the Anacostia waterfront near South Capitol Street, amid growing signs that Major League Baseball will attempt to move the Montreal Expos to Washington." It doesn't mean that baseball in DC is a done deal, or that the Near Southeast site is a done deal, but it's a very interesting decision, and one that would have a huge impact on Near Southeast if it were to happen. You can check out my new Baseball Stadium page for photos of the current area.

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