by Doug Barnes, David Rusk and Tod Lindberg
Today Mayor-elect Muriel Bowser chaired the Committee on Economic Development, and this Committee unanimously passed the DC United Stadium Act (hereafter, called Stadium Act) with amendments. She gave an overview of the bill making several points. She emphasized that the Stadium Act is consistent with promoting economic development in the District; it makes both financial and economic sense as a development project; and finally it will provide community benefits. She cited evidence from the recent Council-financed, cost-benefit report by CSL International, confirming that the Stadium Act would be a good investment for the District in terms of both economic and fiscal benefits.
The proposed amendments to the bill have been widely reported in the press. They now have been formally approved by the DC Committee on Economic Development. The Reeves Center land swap with Akridge will not be part of the Stadium Act. The District seems poised to accept the price of the land for Pepco, Ein and Super Salvage as they are outlined in the Stadium Act. All three have signed letters of intent with the District that are valid through January 1, 2014. The removal of the Reeves Center from the Stadium Act breaks the agreement with Akridge. This means that the District will have to buy the land on the stadium site from Akridge. The price offered to Akridge will be consistent with the value per square foot accepted by Pepco, which is less than the value agreed with Ein and Super Salvage. The government has the option to use eminent domain in unlikely case of an impasse in negotiations with Akridge. The actual price for the Akridge land still has to be negotiated.
Councilmember McDuffie raised the issue of eliminating the $9 million sales tax abatement. The Committee on finance has already approved these abatements. Therefore, this is an issue that will have to be taken up with other councilmembers and D.C. United.
All of this is very good news for DC United. Today, two District committees (one including Chairman Mendelson) voted unanimously to pass the Stadium Act with amendments. More votes are to come next week. The main outstanding issue is the negotiation with Akridge to purchase its land parcel within the footprint of the stadium. The Stadium Act will move forward without the complications of the Reeves Centers. The sale of the old Reeves Center and the construction of a new Reeves Center is still on the agenda, but it is an issue that it seems will be dealt with in January 2015.
If our count is correct, 10 of 12 members of the DC Council have voted yes on the amended Stadium Act, with no dissenting votes. The Stadium Act seems to be on the fast track for approval before the end of the year. Although things are looking good, it is good to keep in mind that "It ain't over 'till it's over."