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Reeves Center land swap at issue during Ward 2 stadium roundtable

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DC United

Before a packed, sweltering room at the Frank D. Reeves Municipal Center Wednesday evening, D.C. Councilwoman Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4), the Democratic mayoral nominee, welcomed Ward 1 and Ward 2 residents for a public roundtable on the D.C. United stadium legislation that was formally introduced to the D.C. City Council on May 23rd.  Representatives from D.C. United, including managing partner Jason Levien, City Administrator Allen Lew, and Matt Klein, President of Akridge, were in attendance to answer questions regarding the stadium proposal. Members of the City Council Committee on Economic Development were present to engage the various panels, including Bowser (acting in her capacity as Chairwoman of the Committee on Economic Development), Anita Bonds (D-At Large), Vincent Orange (D-At Large).  Also present to offer thoughts and questions included Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) and Marion Barry (D-Ward 8).

The roundtable convened shortly after 6:00pm, with each council member in attendance being given time to issue their opening thoughts.  Next, Akridge President Matt Klein presented an opening statement on behalf of the government and the team in support of the legislation.  All in all, it took over 44 minutes before public witnesses were called forward to testify, and it was closer to 50 minutes before the first resident was given the floor to speak.  Public witnesses were given 3 minutes to give their remarks to Councilwoman Bowser and the rest of the Councilmembers present, with each Councilmember then given 3 minutes after each panel to speak and ask questions.  It was a slow, arduous process, and the roundtable did not adjourn until close to midnight.

While there was support and opposition to all parts of the stadium deal as it has been presented, the main point of contention among Ward 1 and Ward 2 residents was the land swap provision of the deal, where Akridge would trade its 2-acre parcel of land at Buzzard Point and cash to the city in exchange for the Reeves Center site located at the intersection of 14th & U Streets NW.  It is expected that the District would relocate the Reeves Center to a new building located in Ward 8 across the Anacostia River, while the old Reeves Center would be torn down by Akridge to make way for an expected joint residential-commercial development.  Many residents wanted to see the District place mandates on the land swap deal that would guarantee affordable housing along with continued plaza and community space.  Other public witnesses desired that the Reeves Center would continue to exist at its current location as a government space.  Still, there were some public witnesses that wanted the land swap deal to be completely scrapped and for D.C. United to cover all the costs of the new stadium and the land acquisition.

Other points of contention that have come up recently, like transportation concerns, were touched on at times, but in the end, the land swap portion of the deal dominated the overall discussion.  At the end, City Administrator Lew and Matt Klein took more questions from the Councilmembers who remained (Councilman Barry was excused from the meeting around 9:30pm) until the meeting adjourned as the midnight hour approached.

For D.C. United supporters who were present at the meeting, it was a test of patience, as it took well over 2 hours before the first supporters were called to testify while some waited over 4.5 hours for the opportunity to have their 3 minutes before the present Councilmembers.  Well over half the meeting’s speaking time was taken up by the Councilmembers themselves, leaving very little opportunity for supporters and opposers alike to get their points across in a public roundtable that was supposed to allow the Committee on Economic Development to hear from Ward 1 and 2 residents.

Ward 6 residents will have the next opportunity to voice their opinions on the stadium legislation.  Chairwoman Bowser will host a public roundtable discussion this evening at 6:00pm at the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, located at 1100 4th Street SW, Suite E200.  Supporters are encouraged to register to give testimony at the roundtable.  You can register at UniteDC.org.  While this evening’s roundtable is geared towards Ward 6 residents, all supporters are invited to attend and show their support for the D.C. United stadium legislation.