A correspondent tipped me off to a bunch of newly posted renderings of the Nationals Ballpark, one of which is a gorgeous fully detailed rendering of the stadium at night, as seen from the southeastern edge of the site (at 1st and Potomac). I've added this rendering and a couple of the new interior views to my stadium page; to see the additional interior views, visit the Nationals New Ballpark page on MLB.com. Note in the new external image that the new garages (not wrapped with development goodness) are depicted for the first time (albeit on the opposite side of the stadium!). And the retail offerings along 1st Street are also shown with a bit more detail.
From the Post: "It sounded like a nice idea: Use the District's new baseball stadium to showcase art, livening up the place with bronze statues, ornate entrance gates, even brightly colored tile mosaic staircases. The D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities yesterday gave city officials a preview of its plans to beautify the future ballpark, until now a cold slab of concrete and glass being built in a former industrial area near the Anacostia River in Southeast. [...] In this case, though, the arts commission wasn't even appealing for funds. Director Tony Gittens told the Sports and Entertainment Commission that he set aside $2 million for the project from the arts commission's budget. No matter, responded John Ross, a senior analyst for the Office of the Chief Financial Officer and member of the sports commission board. The D.C. Council's $611 million cost cap bans additional public spending -- and the arts commission is funded with public dollars, Ross explained. 'You'll have to go back to the council,' Ross said." But maybe it could at least be more fun fighting over art than parking garages....
In the second part of today's Dana Hedgpeth column in the Post, various developers of projects near the stadium (Monument Realty, Faison, and Ron Cohen) are quoted about their feelings on the tortuous process that led to the aboveground parking garages at the baseball stadium. Said F. Russell Hines of Monument Realty, who owns much of the land directly across N Street: "It's an unfortunate solution[.] Our development would be better if there was complimentary retail and a mix of uses on the other side of N Street. It's not a disaster . . . but this is a significant setback[.] We spent months and months of great plans of what this area was going to look like with the Anacostia Waterfront Corp., and in the end it feels like it's every man for himself. We're going to do what we can to create an area where people come off the Metro and they walk along the streets, where there's restaurants and stores and a real experience." (I wonder if this could be interpreted as also a bit of a smack against the AWC's still-never-released "Ballpark District Master Plan" process.) One of Monument's principals, Jeffrey T. Neal, is quoted as saying "We have a vision for Half Street SE between M and N streets Southeast that has the potential to be one of the most exciting neighborhoods in the mid-Atlantic, but that vision won't happen if the process looks like the one that produced two parking garages[.] There's a better solution . . . than two parking garages. Let the private sector do it. There are zoning laws already in place." For balance, there's Ron Cohen, developer of Square 699N (bounded by Half, K, L, and 1st): It's not going to be good, bad or indifferent[.] "It would have been nice to have buildings lining the parking but there's so much activity and energy in that corridor that it doesn't make a heck of a difference one way or the other."
Now that the parking garage issue has been resolved (at least until Opening Day 2008, when hordes of stadiumgoers gasp in disbelief at what they're confronted with when they arrive and descend on the owner's box with pitchforks and boiling oil), I finally felt ready to tackle a reorganization of my Ballpark District page. Mainly I added a new "tab" specifically for the Monument Realty projects along Half Street, which also includes the expansion of the Navy Yard Metro station; I also added some additional photos of other Ballpark District sites. I hope to get renderings of the Monument residential project at Half and N and the W Aloft hotel mid-block before too much longer, but at least I do have drawings of the office building planned for Half and M (above the Metro station). And I now decree that the parking garages are on the stadium site, not in the Ballpark District, and will remain so until they get torn down and redeveloped, sometime around 2025.
More to come as the news stories come out, but I'll break the news here that the council passed 10-3 the resolution today to override the Zoning Commission's rule preventing the construction of aboveground garages on the stadium site. (In other words, they voted to approve aboveground garages.) Barry, Catania, and Schwartz were the dissenters. There was much discussion about whether because of language in the original agreement that after Sept. 1, 2007, the city will have to ask the Lerners for permission to develop the parking garage site on the north side of the stadium that the city will be doomed to never having development because the Lerners would never allow construction in that spot that would disrupt the ballpark experience. But the councilmembers who voted yes seem to feel that at some point in the future there is still the ability to tear down the aboveground garages and develop the land, which will only continue to escalate in value. One teeny item that creeped out of the debate that may be how they're getting this under the cost cap--Jack Evans mentioned that aboveground garages are now being planned for the 300 south side parking spaces, which Clark Construction says can be done for $1.6 million. If this is true, that they're now dispensing with the idea of a grand southern-side plaza (where hardly anyone will be arriving from anyway) then they should have just put 10-story garages right there and had all the parking on the south side. I imagine this is still not a finished discussion.... More to come. UPDATE: Here's the Post story, with a quote from Adrian Fenty that shows perhaps folks are starting to get the message that these two blocks are not the end-all be-all of Ballpark District development: "The land in question on the stadium site is a small percentage of the area around the stadium that is already being developed." UPDATE II: A little late on my part, but here's the WashTimes piece, with an explanation as to why the south side garages can be done so cheaply: "Sports commission officials said the city was able to save money because the Nationals relaxed their requirement for 300 spaces at the south side of the stadium. The stadium construction team, led by Clark Construction of Bethesda, said it can build the parking more inexpensively now with only 130 space at the south." And here's Tim Lemke's Q&A on the entire garages brouhaha, for those smart souls who haven't been paying attention. UPDATE III: If you're into self torture, this council session is available via on-demand streaming video.
From Tuesday's Post: "The D.C. Council appears poised today to approve a scaled-back parking plan for the new Washington Nationals baseball stadium that calls for building two free-standing garages just north of the ballpark, near South Capitol Street and the Navy Yard in Southeast. [...] The new plan would build garages without reinforcement at a cost of $36 million, which could be paid with existing funds and remain within the cost cap, city officials said. Essentially, the plan is what the Lerner group has pushed for since taking over the team in the summer. [...] Fenty said the Lerner group has promised to work with the city to potentially tear down the garages in future seasons if a solid mixed-use development plan is proposed."
Lookee here at what's popped up on the agenda for tomorrow's City Council session, a reading and vote on "Ballpark Parking Completion Emergency Declaration Resolution of 2006" and "Ballpark Parking Completion Emergency Amendment Act of 2006." (No sign of either of them in the online system, though.) I don't know what either of them contain, so we'll just have to wait for news to trickle out. The fun never stops. UPDATE: Speaking of the parking, WTOP is reporting that Herb Miller is suing the city, the DC Sports and Entertainment Commission and the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation, saying that his agreement with the city and Mayor Williams to build the Garages Wrapped With Development Goodness has not been honored. Says Miller: "D.C. will realize it has lost a remarkable opportunity to renew a neighborhood and provide hundreds of millions of dollars in economic benefit to the city. It is a major loss that didn't have to happen." (Says JD: Just because this plan fell through doesn't mean there will never be development on those two blocks, not to mention that there's already plenty of other development on the blocks just north of the stadium.) UPDATE II: Here's the Washington Business Journal storyon Miller's lawsuit.
The Post editorial page weighs in again on the council standoff on the baseball stadium parking garages, laying out specifically the arguments being brought to table by CEO Gandhi and by council member David Catania about the city's liability should there not be 1,225 parking spaces on the stadium site by Opening Day 2008.
From the Examiner: "The District is in the last stages of developing a handbook for moving tens of thousands of people in and out of the Washington Nationals new ballpark on game days. The handbook 'will define exactly how everything is going to be done on game days,' one planner said, including traffic and pedestrian movement, police presence, ambulance staging and fan parking. It will put in place specific mechanisms for movement, from when to restrict on-street parking to which roads to close for pedestrians. [...] Under the draft plan, on-street parking would be restricted to residents, while fans would be urged to take Metro or park at one of multiple off-site lots and garages. Season ticket holders could even be assigned a specific lot based on the direction from which they arrive. Variable message signs would be installed to direct traffic to or away from the stadium; sidewalks would be widened to handle the mass of pedestrians; and traffic signals would be adjusted based on vehicle volume and movement." Also, the restaurant in center field, originally a one-story circular structure (visible on many of the renderings), is now a two-story rectangular building, with the Lerners having expressed the desire for the change and then (believe it or not) footing the $2.8 million bill for the cost difference.
Today's Examiner reports: "Senior officials with the District and the Washington Nationals reached an understanding Monday to construct three aboveground parking garages adjacent to the new Southeast ballpark, The Examiner has learned. The informal pact between Nationals owner Ted Lerner, Democratic mayoral nominee Adrian Fenty and others would result in two garages on the north side of the stadium site, totaling 925 spaces and one 300-space garage on the south end, according to officials familiar with the morning meeting. [...] But Lerner, who has long sought freestanding garages, agreed to reconsider his opposition to retail and residential development a couple years down the road, sources said, which would likely require razing any existing structures." Despite trumpeting this as a deal, I'm not really sure what it's done--the article is vague on the details, saying that the project would cost $36 million, "within reach of the $611 million cost cap", but I'm guessing someone like Mr. Catania might have an opposing viewpoint on whether $36 million can be spent and still stay under the cap. And "Any aboveground parking will require nine of 13 council members to back a zoning exemption. And legislators have so far been unwilling to support freestanding garages."
From the DC Examiner: "Constructing free-standing parking garages at the new Southeast ballpark would be preferable to risking tens of millions of dollars by not producing at all, Mayor Anthony Williams said Wednesday. [...] 'We tried to maximize development on this site within the constraints we had, and we haven't been able to. So we're going to go at it this way and hopefully everybody will come to their senses in two, three, four years and do the right thing.' Williams indicated he now supports 'regular old, garden-variety structured parking.' 'And try to pretty it up,' he said, 'put a ribbon on a pig.' "
From the Post: "The District government's chief financial officer warned yesterday of serious penalties if the city fails to provide parking garages for the new Washington Nationals baseball stadium, encouraging the D.C. Council to reconsider a proposal it voted down last week. In an eight-page letter to council members, Natwar M. Gandhi says the city faces significant financial liabilities if members of the council continue to oppose a plan to build aboveground garages at the ballpark near the Anacostia River in Southeast Washington. The city might have to pay tens of millions of dollars to the Nationals for failing to meet contractual obligations, and the District could suffer shortfalls in potential stadium revenue." Same words as always--spending cap, underground, aboveground, zoning, revenue streams, yadda yadda--just arranged differently. Here's CFO Gandhi's letter, containing much detail, spelling out the options, etc. UPDATE: Here's the Examiner's story.
Debate is still ongoing (and with this bunch, it could go on a long time, especially with the demagoguery and fibbing coming from the dais), but it looks like there aren't nine votes to pass the declaration of an emergency to (I think) allow for making changes to the stadium financing cap that would then allow any of the various parking solutions to go forward. Jack Evans gave a pretty impassioned speech that, as some folks have been saying for a while now, just because development doesn't get fired up right away at the north end of the stadium site, all is not lost in the Ballpark District, and in fact he used the MCI Center/Gallery Place example, that the north end of the MCI Center block stayed empty for years, and no one can say that Chinatown and the MCI/Verizon Center area has suffered. (Tom Knott of the WashTimes said the same thing recently, hat tip to Gallery Place Living). Evans said that if there are surface lots on those blocks for a few years, it won't be the end of the world, and also said that at this point fixing the parking issue is no longer a council/legislative issue, that no one has come up with a way to break the $611 million cost cap, and that other DC government entities should come up with a solution. Marion Barry is still pushing his buddy Herb Miller's plan, Catania is still calling CFO Gandhi a liar, and so really nothing new is happening. UPDATE: The vote to declare an emergency was 7-6, it needed nine votes, so it failed. Now they're moving to Marion Barry's bill to move forward the Herb Miller garages plan. But because Barry's bill would impact the cap, it's being ruled "Out of Order." He wants to change the bill so that it would do nothing more than transfer control of the garages land from the SEC to the AWC, but Chairman Cropp still wants a fiscal impact statement on that change from the CFO's office. So they've moved on for now. UPDATE II: The council has voted down Barry's blll 11-1, with council members saying that they're not prepared to move on an emergency basis to transfer the land to the AWC from DCSEC, that there are still way too many issues to be figured out. So, where do we stand? With it all being punted back to the Mayor and the DCSEC and the Lerners. UPDATE III: Here's the Post story on the day's events. Mayor Baseball sums it up: "Take any major project from the pyramids to Stonehenge. The stupid parking lot has taken more hours and meetings per parking space. It's incredible." UPDATE IV: And here's the WashTimes piece.
From NBC4: "News4 has learned that D.C. Councilmember and mayoral candidate Adrian Fenty is talking with Mayor Anthony Williams about a new plan to build about 1,200 parking spaces on the south side of the stadium rather than on the north side. Sources said the change would make the garages cheaper to build and still leave land on the north side for development of retail stores, restaurants and housing. Sources said the Fenty plan would cost about $56 million compared to the mayor's price tag of about $80 million. Details of the new proposal are still being worked out between Fenty, the mayor, developers and the Lerner family that owns the baseball team. The new proposal could come before the D.C. Council as soon as Wednesday." Very interesting, and might be possible given the extra space on the south end of the stadium site. We shall see what arises.[NBC4 has now updated its story to remove the references to the south side of the stadium.] UPDATE: Here's the Post's article, which says nothing about the south side of the stadium concept mentioned by NBC4, instead saying that two three-story garages would be built aboveground on the north side of the stadium. The Post says that Fenty's plan has the support of CFO Gandhi and that the Nationals ownership group "was receptive to the plan." More: "Fenty said his plan would maintain the city's $611 million cost cap on the project, although it would require tens of millions of dollars in additional stadium-generated revenue that the city otherwise would be free to spend on other needs." And: "A critical aspect of the proposal would require the council to override a D.C. Zoning Commission decision from July that bans free-standing parking garages. Fenty aides said the council can sidestep zoning regulations for government projects." Apparently they're talking about building the aboveground garages in time for the 2008 opening, but the "structures would be reinforced to accommodate additional development on top in later seasons." Another wild ride at the Wilson Building appears to be at hand. UPDATE II: And here is the WashTimes piece, summarizing three of the plans (by Williams, Barry, and Fenty) currently being floated to fix the parking issue, but describes the Fenty plan as being on the south side of the stadium. And I wonder how long it'll be before this AP piece posted at WJLA is corrected, because I'm pretty sure they'd have a hard time putting 12,000 spaces on the site! UPDATE III: Don't forget that DC Council sessions are available via live streaming.
Since I know this will back in the news any second now, here is the DC CFO's Oct. 2 Fiscal Impact Statement on how the draft bill being shopped around by Marion Barry to get the Herb Miller/Garages Wrapped With Development Goodness plan back on track to put garages on the north end of the stadium site will result in the busting of the $611 spending cap the council placed on the ballpark project. And there's a bonus surprise! At the end of the FIS is the draft of the bill itself. (Also, just for the heck of it, here's CFO Gandhi's testimony back in July on the Miller garages plan.) Back on Oct. 4, news reports said that Mayor Williams told the council that he supported Barry's bill with several amendments that addressed Gandhi's concerns. There was talk of this bill coming before the Council at it's session this coming Wednesday, but it's not yet on the schedule. UPDATE: The city council schedule for tomorrow (Wednesday) has now been updated to show so many different ballpark-related items on the agenda that I'm not going to even try to figure out what's what. We'll see what transpires on the morrow....
From Thursday's Post: "Six months after the D.C. Council voted to cap the rising costs of the Washington Nationals baseball stadium at $611 million, Mayor Anthony A. Williams now says the city needs an additional $75 million in public funds to finish the job. The extra money, which would require approval from the council, would be used to help pay for parking garages on city land just north of the ballpark[.]" The response from council members? "[S]everal other members objected vehemently yesterday when informed of the plan by a reporter. [...] Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), an ardent stadium booster, said he did not think the council would approve any proposal to alter the cap and allow more public spending. 'There is no legislative remedy for the parking,' Evans said. 'Under no scenario will the council raise the cap, in my view.' " And what's the new proposal for the garages? "[T]he sports commission would build two levels of parking underground and one level aboveground on the north parcel and another garage on the south side at a cost of $100 million. Those garages would be engineered so that further development could be added in the future, officials said. Since the city has $25 million for parking in the current budget, it would need an additional $75 million. Of that, $17 million would come from excess from a special tax on businesses and utilities that the city has collected during the two seasons the Nationals have played at Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium. The remaining $58 million would come from either a private developer, who would pay the city for the right to build above the garages, or from publicly financed bonds, city financial officials said. Either option is considered public funding and is barred by the council's cost cap." I know we're all stunned that this is taking yet another turn....
A briefing in Wednesday's Post: "D.C. Council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) withdrew yesterday his proposal to revive a plan to build condominiums and parking garages near a new baseball stadium in Southeast Washington. There was little discussion about the bill during yesterday's council meeting. The city's chief financial officer, Natwar M. Gandhi, had sent the council a letter saying that the bill would "jeopardize the on-time and on-budget completion of the stadium facility." Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) told the council in a letter that he supported Barry's bill with several amendments that addressed Gandhi's concerns. The proposal could be placed on the agenda again this month." UPDATE: Here's a more detailed piece, from the Examiner: "Council Chairman Linda Cropp ruled the measure out of order - she opposed it anyway - because it was not accompanied by a fiscal impact statement. 'I agree wholeheartedly that there is an emergency we need to work out,' Cropp said. 'I don't think at this point this is the resolution to do it.' [...] Cropp agreed to work on a compromise with Barry in the coming weeks."
A bombshell from Tuesday's Post: "Several D.C. Council members were negotiating late yesterday to introduce emergency legislation today that would revive a plan to build condominiums and parking garages near a new baseball stadium in Southeast Washington. Council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) was leading the effort and had distributed a bill that seeks to alter the $611 million stadium cost cap approved by the council in March. The legislation would allow the city to spend money from the sale of development rights on stadium land to pay for the parking garages." As an emergency bill it would require 9 of 13 council votes, and CFO Gandhi has already said he has "grave concerns". And the DC Sports and Entertainment Commission would be stripped of control of the garages land, handing them over to the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation and allowing them to negotiate with the Lerners. Mr. Toad's Wild Ride continues....
A portion of today's Dana Hedgpeth column in the Post describes "observations offered last week by developers and leasing and sales brokers to about 100 real estate professionals in an annual conference." The one comment about Near Southeast: "The area around the planned baseball stadium in Southeast, many agreed, will eventually develop into shops, restaurants, housing and more offices. But some differed on how long it would take. The area, which is now mostly boarded-up storefronts, empty lots and car repair garages, would look very different by 2008, some said. Others said it would take until 2010 or beyond. 'You'll go down there and forget what it looked like before,' [emphasis mine] said Daniel P. Dooley, managing director at Tishman Speyer Properties". Gosh, if only someone had thought to take pictures of the neighborhood to capture what it looked like before all the development arrived! :-)
Today's Examiner has "Mayor Williams says parking deal not dead", with not much that's new, but these lines advance the story a tad: " 'We've got to show that development's under way very, very quickly, but at the same time we have to satisfy the need for parking,' Williams said. Williams said talks were ongoing Monday between multiple parties. If the deal does ultimately collapse, the mayor said, the city might have no choice but to build the standalone parking garages sought by Nationals owners, but vehemently opposed by the D.C. Zoning Commission." And the WashPost editorializes about the brouhaha in "Mayor Williams's Dead Deal."
Today's stadium links (posted without summaries, because watching everyone run around like chickens with their heads cut off, clutching their hearts with doom and gloom, has finally exceeded my Allowable Exasperation Level): DC Examiner has "Mayor: City Must Act Fast on Parking," and the Washington Times has "Stadium Parking Threatens Budget". I'd also remind everyone who is so terrified that if the garages site isn't developed immediately, the Ballpark District will be doomed to failure--it took, what, seven years for the Gallery Place project to be developed just north of the MCI/Verizon Center, and that seemed to turn out okay. The garages site is two blocks within a far larger area that is already well on it's way to being developed, the city is going to get plenty of tax revenue, if those two blocks take a few extra years to get figured out, I don't think the city will crumble. UPDATE, 9/23: A day later, here's the Post's latest parking story, "City's Plans for Stadium Now Focus on Parking." I'm not going to rehash all the garage arguments (you can read the article's rehash, including yet another misguided statement about how a lack of development on those two blocks "could delay the waterfront revival until well after the stadium opens"), but there's an interesting comment at the end: "Monument Vice President Russell Hines said his company would be willing to lease the garages [under the company's planned development one block north of the stadium site] to the city for ballpark parking in 2008 because the office buildings will not be completed until the next year. If the city's fee is high enough, Hines said, Monument might even be willing to delay construction of the offices. 'There may be a solution where we agree to delay completion of our buildings in order to provide parking until another parking solution is provided,' Hines said. 'There's no deal yet, but we're willing to talk.' "
From WTOP: "Herb Miller's Western Development Corporation Baseball Partners rejected a deal from the city to develop parking and retail at the new stadium for the Washington Nationals. The move puts the city at risk of default on the stadium agreement with the Lerner Family. That agreement calls for the city to provide 1,225 parking spaces at the site by opening day in April of 2008. If the District is unable to provide that number of spaces, the Lerners could sue the city for damages. [...] Those options include creating surface parking around the stadium as an interim fix until more permanent parking can be developed. The D.C. Zoning Board has ruled the parking cannot preclude other development on the site, such as retail. " It appears that what they're now arguing about is how much Miller gets compensated for the deal falling through. More as I get it (and perhaps the Post will give us some clarity, this seems a bit jumbled). UPDATE: Here is the WashPost story, which doesn't tell us much that we haven't already heard. The article is a bit overwrought when it says "The dissolution of the Miller project could have far-reaching consequences on the entire baseball experience and the city's planned revival of the waterfront." -- after all, there are millions of square feet of office, residential, and retail projects planned for around the stadium, whether the Garages Wrapped With Development Goodness got built or not. Next step, trying to put 925 parking spaces on the northern edge of the stadium site by Opening Day 2008.
From Saturday's Post: "District government officials believe a plan to build condominiums and parking garages adjacent to a new baseball stadium in Southeast Washington is in danger of collapsing and have offered to buy out the developer for nearly $1 million." The short of it--the city has delivered a contract to Herb Miller for the project, but the contract would need approval from Lerners, which it most likely would not get. So the contract also has in it a $990,000 payment to Miller if the deal falls through (Miller is quoted later in the story as saying he's incurred $5.5 million in design and other costs on this project, at the city's request). Why $990k? Because any payment more than $1 million requires city council approval. So, what would happen? "If Miller's towers are not built, commission officials have said they would consider paving over the area to provide surface-level parking spots with the potential for future development. Another possibility would be to ask the D.C. Council for more money to build garages underground or aboveground, commission officials said." Miller has until Wednesday to sign the contract, so we should know the resolution on this before too much longer. Or, have I said that before?
From today's Post, word that negotiations between Herb Miller and the city on the Garages Wrapped with Development Goodness have "bogged down because of financing complications," and the city fears that his proposal will fall through and have "begun developing a plan that relies heavily on surface-level parking lots." It says that negotiations are to resume today--interesting timing of this story, then!--and that the main issues are whether the plan violates the $611 million stadium cost cap and who will pay for any overruns. The story says that if the deal falls through, "The sports commission has explored the possibility of paving over the five-acre plot north of the stadium to provide surface level lots for the scheduled opening of the stadium in April 2008. A temporary one-level garage might be included to reach the required number of parking spaces. Under that plan, additional development could be built in the future by Miller or another developer."
No news yet on the fate of the Herb Miller/Garages Wrapped With Development Goodness plan to solve the issue of parking at the new baseball stadium (despite the Sept. 1 date when the financing was supposed to be in place having now arrived), but the Post editorial page weighs in on the lonely plight of CEO Gandhi trying to make sure that the DC taxpayers' interests don't strike out.
A short blurb from Friday's Post: "D.C. Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi asked the city's attorney general yesterday to rule on the legality of a plan for a private developer to build a mix of parking garages, condominiums and shops adjacent to the new baseball stadium. In a two-page letter, Gandhi expressed concern that the plan would violate the $611 million stadium cost cap adopted by the D.C. Council and a ban on using the money the city would receive from development rights near the stadium to build the garages. Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) and other city officials are aiming to complete an agreement by Sept. 1 with developer Herbert S. Miller to build the garages and condos." (Boy, I've enjoyed these past few weeks without any news on this. But I'm guessing next week this'll be back with a vengeance. Blech.)
Today's Washington Times reports that DC mayoral candidate Michael Brown has vowed to "stop construction of the Washington Nationals' baseball stadium on South Capitol Street and instead would refurbish RFK Stadium for the team." He will apparently be holding a press conference this week to detail his plans. Additionally: "Mr. Brown acknowledged the apparent difficulties in gaining the approval of all interested parties for a new stadium deal but said he can do it. 'I didn't say it was easy, and there are a lot of different moving pieces.' " In other the-stadium-is-a-boondoggle highlights from the weekend, the WashTimes editorial board compares the financing for the new Yankee stadium to what DC "negotiated" to get the Nats to DC (i.e., stop pointing the gun at us, Bud, we'll give you everything you want, just so you'll finally put a team in one of the biggest markets in the country), but also uses it to once again castigate the Lerners for standing in the way of the city's desire to recoup some money by building the Garages Wrapped With Development Goodness. In addition, local muckraking institution DC Watch has had much discussion from its readers over the past few weeks about the stadium and it's financing, and addresses it specifically in its current issue.
This is a little old at this point, but here's the prepared remarks of CFO Natwar Gandhi when he testified before the council's Committee on Economic Development on July 6 about his concerns with Herb Miller's proposal for the Garages Wrapped With Development Goodness.
The Post's Tom Boswell doesn't like the plan for Garages Wrapped With Development Goodness. He REALLY doesn't like the plan for Garages Wrapped With Development Goodness. "What you absolutely positively must not do is build a $281 million condo and hotel theme park behind left and center field. Washington can have a beautiful home for the Nats. And the District can have its urban development renaissance. They're compatible. However, the worst imaginable first step toward both goals would be to dwarf the new stadium with a couple of cityscape-shielding 13-story towers, which we'd glare and cuss at for decades, just to settle a fuss over 925 parking spaces."
Because you just can't ever get through a day without hearing about the stadium's parking issues, here's Friday's WashTimes with "City Feeling Crunch on Stadium Parking," which reports that it's now going to cost $18 million to build the 300 other parking spaces on the stadium site (on the south side, beneath the plaza), and with only $21 million budgeted to provide all 1,225 spaces, well, there's a problem. Yes, the city is negotiating with Herb Miller to build the Garages Wrapped With Development Goodness, but as the article notes, Miller "would pay about $39 million for the land, and the commission would pay for the garages." So, what's to be done? Quoting: "The commission could ask Miller to pay for the garages in exchange for a lower purchase price on the land, or work out some other financial arrangement that will not require more city money. It is possible, however, that the commission would ask the D.C. Council to approve more funds for the project and is eyeing a possible council meeting Aug. 15. A spokesman for Mayor Anthony A. Williams, however, said yesterday the mayor will not ask the council to approve more funds." With the garages construction needing to get started by Labor Day in order to guarantee on-time completion in March, 2008, the clock is a'ticking.
A lot of new stadium stuff today for those who are interested. I've posted a bunch of additional renderings of various parts of the stadium project (and the Garages Wrapped with Development Goodness, too) on my new baseball stadium page (follow the icon, of course). These renderings were gleaned from the DCSEC's packet of materials submitted to the DC Zoning Commission in advance of the June 26 hearing; I've also now posted portions of that zoning filing, including additional renderings and other supplemental materials.
From today's WashTimes, we hear that the Herb Miller presented his Garages Wrapped With Development Goodness plan to the DC Sports and Entertainment Commission on Wednesday. There was no vote (as we heard about yesterday), so the article deson't really contain much news, just reiterating that Mayor Tony's for it, the Lerners are against it, and CEO Gandhi is warning that it's a big mistake. One new item: "[Miller] also must show, in writing, that the city will not be held liable if he fails to complete the project on time." Miller says that he is ready to start construction, although he has yet to line up all of his financing. If the DCSEC rejects the plan, they could "recommend that the city find at least $44 million in additional funds to cover the cost of underground garages. Underground garages could be completed on time and would allow for commercial development to be built a street level at a later date. But any additional spending on the stadium would require approval from the D.C. Council, which earlier this year passed a $611 cap on stadium expenditures."
A small Post blurb says that the planned vote by the DC Sports and Entertainment Commission on the Garages Wrapped with Development Goodness next to the new ballpark has been delayed: "The city attorney general's office has raised questions about the legality of Miller's plans that mayoral aides have sought to answer," and so Miller and mayoral aides didn't supply the necessary paperwork to the DCSEC in time to allow for a vote today. A spokesman says the mayor still expects the plan to be approved by the commission.
Voice of the Hill has posted it's summary of the July 10 ANC 6D Meeting. It's a bit of water under the bridge at this point, but it's still worth noting here that the ANC did vote to oppose the Garages Wrapped With Development Goodness, which were then approved the next day by the city council. Also on the agenda had been William C. Smith's request for alley closings and street openings in preparation for its development project at 800 New Jersey Ave. The proposal was referred to the ANC's development subcommittee, with there again being debate about what "community benefits" the project would be providing. According to VOTH, the "William C. Smith representative pointed to amenities his company has already promised, including an affordable housing component and funding for a public park." The public park being Canal Park, which William C. Smith is helping to fund. (Note that the alley closing/street opening request is on the Aug. 3 NCPC agenda.)
From the Post: "D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams called yesterday for a meeting to restore goodwill between city officials and the new owners of the Washington Nationals, saying that the family of Bethesda developer Theodore N. Lerner had been "condescending" in dealings with the city." Tony got in a few good licks: " 'We're both in this,' Williams said. 'You put up $450 million for the team. Well, we put up $611 million for the stadium, and we're trying to get some benefits for our people. Excuse me, we do not need the condescending attitude. Maybe I have not built a stadium, but we brought $40 billion of investment to this city. Someone must think we know what we're doing.' " Team president Stan Kasten attempted to dial back the hostilities by releasing a statement saying "The new Nationals ownership has nothing but appreciation and respect for the enormous work and political courage of Mayor Williams and the D.C. Council in making big league baseball a reality in the Nation's Capital. We have been consistently supportive of their commitment to Major League Baseball to deliver a first class ballpark on time and on budget." [snarky emphasis mine] Other tidbits in the article: Herb Miller is scheduled to present his financing plan for The Garages Wrapped Wth Development Goodness to the DC Sports and Entertainment Commission on Monday. And the Mayor has said that he would go to the council for more money (up to $83 million according to CFO Gandhi) if the Miller plan falls through. The WashTimes has a similar article, with the additional info that after the financing plan is presented to DCSEC on Monday, they will vote on it on Wednesday; at that point, it would then need the Lerner group's approval for it to move forward.
From the Post: "The District's chief financial officer has told Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) that the city will need up to $83 million in additional funds for construction of parking garages near the new baseball stadium if a plan from a private developer to finance the structures falls through. [...] But the report from Natwar M. Gandhi said the mayor will have to seek money from the city's general fund or approval for more construction bonds from the D.C. Council if Miller cannot make good on his proposal. Miller will try to win final approval from the Washington Nationals ownership group next week. The city has $21 million to build free-standing garages, but because the D.C. Zoning Commission approved Miller's plan for integrated development, the District would need more money, officials said." And here's the WTOP piece, headlined "Stadium Price Tag May Go Up Nearly $100M", which has more detail, saying that " Gandhi briefed the Mayor on three options that would promote revenue opportunities [...] One option would cost $44 million, another $58 million. Both options would provide 1,225 parking spaces. A third option would cost $98 million and provide 1,875 parking spaces, bringing the total stadium price to more than $700 million. At a recent stadium task force meeting, D.C. Council members were told they would need to amend the current stadium legislation to wave the cap on spending and approve the additional costs. If Miller's plan falls through, the additional costs could be covered by issuing more construction bonds, or the mayor could seek the money from the city's general fund. The additional spending would not be submitted to the council for a vote until after after the September primary." So now we wait to see if Herb gets his financing in place (though I remember reading somewhere that he had said he would have the financing for excavation in place by mid-August, and the rest of the financing ready by the time real construction would start, late in 2006, but who knows how CFO Gandhi feels about that), and whether the Lerners approve the plan.
A correspondent passed along an image from the paperwork filed with the Zoning Commission for the stadium hearing last month, which shows a concept rendering of the now-infamous condo- and hotel-wrapped parking garages on the north edge of the stadium site. I've put it at the top of my Stadium Renderings page, where you can scroll down to remind yourself of the plain parking garages originally planned for that location. Now I just have to figure out how I'm going to move all my discussions and photos of this land between N Street and N Place to my Ballpark District page without completely gutting my Stadium page :-). (I think I'll wait until the Ballpark District Master Plan is released.) In the meantime, I also added a couple of new photos to my M Street page, my Capper/Carrollsburg page (celebrating at long last the completion of above-ground demolition on the 3rd/4th/I/Virginia block), and the Capper Seniors #2 page (the 4th and M location is starting to look very different).
With the squabble over the stadium's on-site parking garages finished, attention is turning to how the city will provide additional parking to the teeming masses who will insist on driving to the new Nats ballpark. Eventually (as certain sage local observers have noted on multiple occasions), the many new developments that will be sprouting in the Ballpark District will have plenty of underground parking that will be usable for baseball attendees. But until then, where will people park? Friday's Post has a big piece on the scrambling being done by the DC government (with considerable prodding by the Lerner/Kasten team) to line up existing lots (or create new lots) by Opening Day 2008 - here's the Post graphic showing the location of the lots. Some spots aren't surprising--the Southeast Federal Center, WASA, and Buzzards Point are all going to be developed in the future, but in the meantime can offer plenty of space for surface lots. But I also see that they're saying that the site of the current Capper Seniors at 7th and M could be available--putting aside that it's just a touch far away, could it really be emptied and demolished and paved by Spring, 2008? (Not if they hire the same folks currently using forks and knives to demolish the second ribbon of Capper/Carrollsburg.) Yes, some are a bit of a hike--but gosh, don't we all need more exercise these days, anyway? (it's a JOKE, people!) UPDATE: Here are articles on the city's parking presentation from the Examiner and the WashTimes. UPDATE II: Added the link to the Post map of the lots.
More to come when news stories are posted, but I can report that the city council today passed without debatePR 16-852, the resolution to sell some of the stadium property right along N Street to developer Herb Miller, so that he can build not only the 925 parking spaces required by MLB but also a mix of residential, retail, and hotel offerings. (Without debate! Will wonders never cease!) Now the real fun begins, seeing whether he can actually pull this off on schedule and on budget. While it's quite a gamble, I don't think there's many residents who would have preferred two aboveground parking garage-boxes rather than mixed-use offerings in this location. Now we'll just see whether the gamble pays off. Batter up, Herb. UPDATE: here's the Post story, including that news that Miller "intends to produce the first $5 million or $6 million [of financing] in September to start excavation of the land, and the bulk of the financing would come by Dec. 1." UPDATE, 9:48 am: And here's the WashTimes story. UPDATE, 7:39 pm: And a late addition, this Examiner story says what I've suspected all along: "In its unanimous support of developer Herb Miller's project, to be built on two city-owned parcels adjacent to the ballpark's north end, the council sent a message, members said: Major League Baseball has long had the city over a barrel, but not in this case. " 'It's the first time the council has stood up and said, "This is ours," said Ward 5 Council Member Vincent Orange. "These are our development rights." ' "
From Friday's Post, "Mayor's Stadium Proposal Advances": "The D.C. Zoning Commission approved the mayor's plan for the new Nationals stadium in Southeast yesterday, including his proposal to wrap four levels of parking inside two condominium towers, a first for Washington architecture." The commission rejected the backup plan for plain boxy aboveground garages, the ones preferred by the Lerners: "'Going back to exposed garages does nothing for the revitalization of the community,' Commissioner Michael Turnbull said. 'It's not good land use, not good planning.' " This WashTimes story gives additional details. The remaining hurdles to this plan are the city council (which will vote as a whole on the plan on July 11, with a vote coming today from the Economic Development subcommittee) and whether CEO Gandhi can certify the financial aspects of the plan, which he says needs to be done by Aug. 1 in order to allow construction to proceed by Labor Day to keep the project on time. Developer Herb Miller's quote: "What Nat Gandhi wants, we want." However, NBC4's Tom Sherwood is reporting that the DC Council appears ready to reject the plan. UPDATE: Here is Mayor Baseball's statement on the Zoning vote.
UPDATE, 6/29: Here's another Washington Times story, talking about the short timetable the city has to address the Zoning Commission's concerns, and also discussing the additional environmental issues that appear to have cropped up at the site.
The Post's architecture and urban planning columnist, Roger K. Lewis, has a piece in Saturday's Post discussing the ballparkgarage contretemps ("The Right Garages for the Stadium"). His summary: "Fortunately, the mayor and city planners are doing the right thing, recognizing that it isn't enough to build garages to satisfy only stadium parking needs. Creatively designed garages must help satisfy another, equally important goal: enhancing the urbanity, functionality and economic potential of this neighborhood."
The Post's Day 2 story on the stadium parking garages, "City Urged to Support 2 Proposals," says that team owner Ted Lerner "wants city officials to adopt his proposal for aboveground-only parking as a backup if the mayor's plan for parking aboveground and below falls through. [...] The Lerner group stressed that it will agree [to the city's plan for both underground and aboveground parking with surrounding development] but asks that the city consider the group's plan for aboveground parking with no other development as a Plan B." As for logistics: "The city's chief financial officer, Natwar M. Gandhi, is analyzing whether he can certify the money is available for the city's parking plan. D.C. Council member Sharon Ambrose (D-Ward 6) has scheduled a hearing on the stadium July 6. And the council will vote July 11 on a resolution to transfer development rights on the stadium site near South Capitol Street and the Navy Yard in Southeast Washington to private developers." In a classic chicken-and-egg scenario, CFO Gandhi wants a letter from Herb Miller's financial backers before he certifies the plan, but the backers want to see that the plan is supported by the Zoning Commission at the June 26 hearing before proceeding. The WashTimes story from today has similar comments, saying that approval of the plan by the Council is likely as long as Miller can show "how the project can be paid for without threatening the city's $611 million spending cap for the stadium." This story says that approval of the aboveground structures by the Zoning Commission is less certain.
UPDATE: And just as I post this, the WTOP story appears: "A compromise on parking at the new Nationals stadium has been reached, WTOP has learned. The deal calls for above and below ground parking, according to a spokesman for Mayor Tony Williams. Western Development Co., owned by Herb Miller, would build the 1,225 parking spaces. Some of the spaces would be underground while most would be masked by retail shops and condos." If indeed a compromise "has been reached", I would hope this means that the Lerners have already agreed to it. Sounds like the press conference will be around 10:30 am--it's possible that DC Cable 16 will carry it.
Original post: The Associated Press is reporting (well, they attribute it to WTOP, but I can't find evidence of it on the WTOP site; there's also a WJLA video report) that Mayor Williams will be holding a press conference today to discuss a compromise proposal on the stadium parking garages: "WTOP Radio is reporting that Williams will propose a plan providing a combination of above and below ground parking at the site (which is also the description of the plan described by WBJ late Friday to sell the parking lot land to Herbert Miller's Western Development Corporation). Mayoral spokesman Vince Morris tells the station that the above ground parking will be hidden behind stores and condominiums." The brief doesn't say whether the Lerners are on board. I guess we shall see. In the grand scheme, this still means "boxes" just to the north of the stadium that will obscure some or all of the stadium's facade to the anticipated 70 percent of visitors who will arrive from the Metro stations on M Street, but certainly having retail and other "live" stuff is better looking than parking lots.
From the Washington Business Journal: "Mayor Tony Williams has asked the D.C. Council for permission to sell city land at the new baseball stadium site to a developer who would build more than 900 parking spaces -- both above ground and below ground, a possible solution to a controversy that has dogged the project in recent weeks. [...] The mayor wants approval to authorize the city to sell "certain real property" at the stadium site to WDC Baseball Partners, an entity headed by Herb Miller's Western Development. The resolution does not say exactly how much land would be involved in the deal or what Western would pay. But the agreement would require Western to build at least 925 parking spaces and possibly housing and retail, which would have to be delivered by March 1, 2008." The response from LernerLand? "Stan Kasten, the Nationals' president in waiting, says his staff is evaluating the proposal and reiterated that his principle concern is that stadium is 'on time, on budget and first class.' " A few days ago the Post mentioned how Forest City Washington and Western Development Corporation have supposedly pledged $70 million to the city in return for development rights on the stadium property, so this is clearly an outgrowth of that. I can only imagine the bazillion things that could prevent this from working, but perhaps this does show some movement.
UPDATE: Neither the Saturday WashTimes or WashPost has a story on the plan to sell the land to Western Development - but the WashTimes does have a piece on the Nats sale that includes some information on the garages: "The D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission [...] is prepared to direct the construction team, led by Clark Construction, to build parking above ground. But the commission received some assurances from Clark this week that at least part of the parking could be built underground and completed by March 2008, the project's deadline. The Anacostia Waterfront Corp. [...] presented a plan to pay for the construction that would involve payments from developers in exchange for the rights to build on certain parcels of ballpark land. But those plans have yet to be finalized, to the frustration of the Lerner family and members of the sports commission. Talks are ongoing, and a plan could be presented to the D.C. Zoning Commission during a hearing on the entire ballpark plan June 26." Then there's this sentence, which I've not seen elsewhere and, if true, shows why they're really working so hard to find a compromise: "Any above ground parking structures would require special approval from the zoning commission."
(Still a day or so behind on news, should be back to business as usual tomorrow) Another article from the Post ("Battle Brews for Control of Stadium Project") detailing the war of wills between the city and the new Nationals ownership group over the parking garages on the ballpark site. The most interesting part of the article is toward the end, a discussion of how Forest City Washington and Western Development Corporation have supposedly pledged $70 million to the city in return for development rights on the stadium property (this had been news a long time ago), but that according to Stan Kasten the city and the developers missed a deadline to produce funding guarantees. This still might not be over.... UPDATE: Here's a press release from Mayor Baseball reiterating his support for putting the parking garages underground. Also, the Washington Times reports that the city council is probably not going to fund the Office of Baseball (but apparently the Mayor will try to find monies for it from other agencies.)
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.
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.)
The one structure on the stadium site that maybe should have been saved--the Victorian rowhouse at Van and N--was demolished late this week, leaving now just the buildings on the east side of Half Street between N and O as the only ones left to take down. I added a couple of new shots to the stadium construction gallery, although not a full complement (I'm being lazy this holiday weekend). I'll also note that the WashTimes ran its own piece on Saturday on the looming battle between the city and the Lerners over the parking garages....
"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.)
Two more buildings have come down in the ballpark footprint in the last 24 hours: the blue Follies building on O Street, and the AAMCO car repair shop on South Capitol between N and O. And the white garage at 1st and N continues to be demolished, the brick parts of the structure near N Place were torn down yesterday.
FRIDAY UPDATE: The trash garage at 1st and O is now completely gone; so is the third of the four buildings on the north side of O (leaving only the four-story building that was home to Heat). The buildings along Half between O and N remain, however--they're probably on next week's agenda. (No new pictures, I'm trying to pace myself a bit.) Even better news--during the 30 minutes I spent walking around the ballpark site, the prices at the Half and M Sunoco dropped from $3.19 to $3.11. (No, I'm not taking credit.)
The four red-brick rowhouses on N Street between Van and South Capitol bit the dust today; my stadium construction gallery has before-and-after photos, as well as some updated shots of the demolition of the trash transfer garage at 1st and N. (Note that Ken Wyban's restored Victorian townhouse is still standing, at least as of today. Maybe they'll hang onto it for a while, and think about including it in any of the non-stadium entertainment development they might be planning for that spot?)
The latest stadium demolition news: The big white trash transfer garage at 1st and N is being demolished today, and Ziegfield's at Half and O is now pretty much gone. I added some new shots to the stadium construction gallery, nothing terribly exciting (although I guess the pics of the gaping hole in the middle of the trash transfer building are kind of impressive). I also shot new versions of the overview shots as well, although the differences from last week to this week aren't that astounding.
City officials are particularly anxious for an owner to be named because of several upcoming decisions related to the new ballpark, to be located along the Anacostia Waterfront. Construction of the stadium could begin this month, and officials would prefer owner input about aspects of the ballpark design, including the location of an adjacent parking garage.
In addition, architects and the construction team would like to consult the owner about changes to the design of the ballpark and the materials used to build it. The sports commission has required the construction team to build the ballpark for no more than $320 million, and efforts to stay under that cap have forced some more expensive materials and design aspects to be removed.
With the stadium now moving forward, attention will turn to the areas immediately surrounding it and the mixed-use developments the city wants to see in order to make the Ballpark District a year-round destination. In Friday's Post article "D.C. Stadium Likely to Open Without Entertainment Area," developers are quoted as saying that first phases probably won't be done before 2009. The four developers chosen by the AWC have hired urban planning firm Cooper, Robertson & Partners to create the master plan for the 40 acres of mixed-use development. In the meantime, Monument Realty says it expects to begin construction in early 2007 on the land it owns in the blocks just north of the stadium footprint. So, be prepared to walk through a lot of construction to get to the stadium in the early days. (On the other hand, the delays that everyone seems to anticipate will occur with the stadium could help get the ballpark district further along before the ballpark debuts.) Also, the article mentions that the plans for the stadium itself incorporates retail space within the park's facade along 1st Street, and also manages to sneak in another mention that the parking garages raising eyebrows in the stadium renderings will most likely disappear.
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."
"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.
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."