D.C. United's new stadium inches closer to existence as the city and Akridge agree on land swap ground rules

Patrick McDermott

The Washington Post's Jonathan O'Connell reports that the city and one of the Buzzard Point parcel owners have agreed on the outlines of a land swap and a mechanism to value each side's contribution to the deal to ensure both sides receive value for their land.

The slow trickle - though compared to recent years, it might be called a deluge - of stadium developments continues as expected this morning, as the Washington Post's Capital Business reports that the District and developer Akridge have agreed on the ground rules to the first of several land swaps that will consolidate the land at Buzzard Point for the construction of a new stadium by D.C. United. Essentially, the city will trade the Reeves Center at the bustling corner of 14th and U Streets NW for Akridge's parcel on Buzzard Point; because both sides agree that the land on U Street is going to be worth significantly more than the land in Southwest, Akridge will also bring cash to the table to make an equitable deal possible. At this point, D.C. United is not involved with the negotiations.

Rather than go through a public auction to raise the cash to purchase the land at Buzzard Point, a process that could take years to implement before being mired in litigation for years more, the city has agreed to use three appraisers to assess the value of the Reeves Center and the parcel on Buzzard Point. One appraiser will be selected by the city, one by the developer and the last one by the first two appraisers. To prevent the city from getting screwed by the jump in the value of Akridge's parcel stemming from the stadium announcement itself, the deal stipulates that the value be assessed as of the date immediately preceding that announcement. It is unclear whether they will average the appraisers' valuations or choose the middle one of the three or something else to finalize the assessments, but the difference in the value of the Reeves Center and Akridge's parcel on Buzzard Point would presumably equal the cash portion of the deal.

The Post's report also brings into focus some of the timing details for the rest of this year - the city has until year's end to completed the land acquisition process (or at least to have everything under contract, if not under strict legal control). Here's O'Connell:

The panel of appraisers would provide their estimates in writing to the District and Akridge by Oct. 14. By Nov. 1, D.C. and Akridge are to have entered a definitive agreement to complete the swap and Lew plans to submit that - along with other Buzzard Point land agreements - to the D.C. Council by Nov. 15, which would give the council time to consider a stadium package before the end of the year. The land deals would close 30 days after council approval.

So, basically, we have just over a month before Akridge and the District are to have entered an agreement to finish the swap, and only two weeks more before City Administrator Allen Y. Lew plans to submit all the Buzzard Point land agreements to the D.C. Council for legislative approval. So, essentially, we're six weeks out from the process becoming very public and potentially more political than ever.

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