Thursday, June 15, 2006

DC Mayor Williams
June 12, 2006
support for underground parking
Mayor Reaffirms His Position That Parking at New Baseball Stadium Must Not Crowd Out Development

Contact (Media Only): Vince Morris (202) 727-5011; Sharon Gang (202) 727-5011

(Washington, DC) Mayor Anthony A. Williams today repeated his position that the proposed parking garage near the new ballpark in Southeast should be underground or built in such a way that permits development around it. The mayor told reporters that building a 1,200-space parking garage underground before the ballpark’s 2008 opening is feasible, economical and aesthetically desirable. He also noted that the nine DC Council members who voted in favor of the baseball project earlier this year all endorsed setting the parking underneath development. Mayor Williams said that he has asked Steve Goldsmith, the chairman of the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation and the leader of a task force that’s working to steer the project to completion, to press for underground parking to benefit the District’s long-term interests.

“I strongly believe that it’s in the best long-term interest of the District to put these parking spaces underground, not above-ground as is frequently done in the suburbs,” said Mayor Williams. “It will serve the ballpark as well as the surrounding community for us to place this parking garage below ground so that we can build a productive mix of affordable housing, office, retail or residential development on top of the project. If we put the cars underground, as we do throughout most of the city, the District will reap more long-term benefits and millions of dollars in tax revenue. I want to encourage everyone involved in the undertaking to keep their eye on the big picture; we aren’t just building a stadium. We are creating a healthy cluster of development that will raise the standard of living for all our residents, reshape both sides of the Anacostia River and help make our city a livable and walkable place for the next 100 years. We should not sacrifice that vision for short-term gains.”

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The Nats' new owner, Ted Lerner, would rather see the parking remain above-ground, both because he argues that it would be cheaper and because it would allow the stadium to be finished on time. With all due respect, Mr. Lerner, this really isn't your choice to make.

The District's political establishment all but tore itself apart debating the merits of paying for the stadium. But now that the city has promised to shell out $611 million and has undertaken the politically unpopular move of using its eminent domain powers to clear out reluctant land owners, Williams should remind Lerner who, ultimately, has the say here. And there shouldn't be much of a debate on the merits of the parking issue, either. The stadium is being built along South Capitol Street in Southeast to serve as a catalyst for development in an otherwise blighted area, and it doesn't take an urban development expert to know that above-ground parking would take away from the parks, homes, offices, restaurants, bars, and shops that will invariably take hold once the stadium is completed. Just look at RFK -- the four-decade-old stadium is surrounding by acres of parking, making for an unsightly and development-resistant plot of land.

In the end, we're paying for the stadium, not the Lerners. It is in the District's best interest to ensure that the area that they razed actually produces the development they promised. The team can move; the city can't. If the Nats ever pack their bags, it'd be nice not to be left with an empty stadium and a bunch of parking lots. Stand firm, Mayor Williams.

Posted by Martin Austermuhle in News |
I'm very much on the fence on this one. The nice thing about underground parking is that it's out of sight, and therefore gives a nicer apperance to the stadium. However, underground parking lots are enclosed and when you have a few thousand cars leaving at the same time will be smoky, and to me-- nauseating. Plus-- it'll be even more expensive to have underground parking, something that will, of course, be added to your bill.

Ground parking isn't nearly as visually appealing, but there's less immediate pollution in your face, and will allow the stadium to be open on time. Didn't the planners think of all this when they started planning out this stadium, or is this just a new development?

Considering ground was broken a month ago (or less) I wonder what the hell they were thinking?

Posted by: Gabe | June 13, 2006 12:28 PM

The Lerners have been rightly criticized in local quarters, but this steadfast position is consiscourtesy tent with MLB's approach to negotiations. Even with a massive gift of DC taxpayers (in the broadest possible sense -- so please, no tangential arguments here), MLB still wants absolutely everything on its terms alone. DC will own this stadium -- it would be worth the penalties incurred by modest delays to do it right. It's not like the Lerners are on the hook for a single cent of cost overruns. The Lerners can run parking shuttles from their fabulous concrete garage city of Tysons Corner.

They also can bite my shiney metal ass while they're at it.

Posted by: DCDawg | June 13, 2006 02:29 PM

I love how Tony has grown a set of balls this late in the game. He basically bent over for MLB without even getting the courtesy of a reach-around and now he's all chest out dealing with the Lerners. Isn't all of this something that should have been decided BEFORE the deal was signed?

A stadium surrounded by acres and acres of parking lots would SUCK! I want to be able leave the game and walk across the street to a bar.

Posted by: EAW | June 13, 2006 02:41 PM

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