DC Council chairman Phil Mendelson sat down with The Georgetown Dish and gave a wide-ranging interview about subjects relevant to many parts of life in DC. Most relevant to this blog, however, were his comments about the proposed D.C. United stadium at Buzzard Point.
BR: The District is changing rapidly, both demographically and economically, going from overwhelming black to barely 50% black and the city’s budget keeps running a surplus. How has that affected our politics?
PM: We’re struggling with affordability issues: homelessness, affordable housing and tax reductions. We should not just be a city of white upper class individuals; it’s important that people who have lived here don’t feel that they are being driven out and those who have lower paying jobs can live where they work. It’s valuable to have diversity, not just racial but economic…And I think there is an issue with the soccer stadium at Buzzards Point. It will increase pressure enormously to redevelop southwest; that in turn will drive out affordable housing; we have to enable people of lesser means to stay in the city.
BR: Are you saying the Council will approve the soccer stadium?
PM: I don’t want to foreordain what’s going to happen and the deal is very complicated. I think the majority of the council supports a subsidy for building a soccer stadium at that location.
Maintaining an acceptable amount of affordable housing has been one of the primary criticisms of the original land-swap deal put forth by Vincent Gray and Allen Lew. But as has been noted in the numerous walking tours of the area that our writers have put on, there is not a lot of housing, affordable or otherwise, in the immediate area surrounding the proposed stadium. Empty lots, salvage yards, parking, and electric substations are the proposed stadium's neighbors.
This is reading plenty into Mendelson's statements but, as the interviewer seems to catch onto, it does seem like his thoughts are informed by the notion that the stadium deal will come to fruition and it will be built at Buzzard Point. Nothing but inference here, but the totality of people's statements continue to give me hope.