Thursday, May 29, 2008

Getting the Facts Straight

“…the city has no business paying for such a facility or grabbing riverfront parkland to build it.”
- Marc Fisher, A Stadium Plan That Won't Pay Off

Such flagrant misinformation should get a little more editing before being published. Let’s set the record straight:

Poplar Point is not parkland. It is vacant land, with a few buildings on it currently used by the National Park Service. At present, Poplar Point is planned to be developed by Clark Realty Capital, who will build approximately 6.3 million square feet on 110 acres.

So, despite what Washington Post columnist Marc Fisher argues in his latest article, this is not an issue of parkland v. stadium. The land will be developed regardless of whether a stadium is part of the plan or not.

The city is not necessarilly proposing to pay for the stadium itself. Specifically, it is proposing a cap of $150 million (DC United wants them to pay $225) provided towards the stadium development, most if not all would go towards infrastructure (roads, sewers, etc). For now, the legislation had not yet been made public, so any details on what the money would go for is pure speculation. Regardless of what is built, the city will end up paying infrastructure costs: there are costs associated with developing land that has never been built on.

I used to be pretty ambivalent about the stadium issue, but now I see it as a crucial investment in our part of town. The stadium proposal has changed dramatically since I originally wrote about my position on the topic: at that point we were talking about MacFarlane's desire to have sole development rights to Poplar Point, whereas now the stadium is (potentially) part of Clark's more integrative masterplan. If built, the stadium will be part of a major redevelopment that will include offices, townhouses, condos, apartments, retail, cultural space, deck over 295, and a 70-acre park.

And honestly, Anacostia could use some face-painted and passionate United / Freedom / Bayhawks fans walking its streets.

Click Here for Clark's presentation on Poplar Point


Anonymous said...

One soccer fan here to say sorry for misreading your intentions months ago. Glad to see we can all agree that Marc Fisher is a disingenuous idiot!

Anonymous said...

I'm really happy that you took Marc Fisher's article the same way as most.

Anonymous said...

Just another soccer fan who appreciates your views on the stadium, and blowing Mr. Fisher's assumptions out of the water.

Anonymous said...

Poplar Point is currently owned by the National Park Service and is absolutely parkland. There are plans to develop 80 acres out of the 150 acre site (after the S. Cap. bridge is realigned). Also although cities generally pay for infrastructure for new developments (to increase their taxbase) when you are discussing prime East Coast waterfront real estate it is not unusual for developers to be expected to share that cost. There is a fiscal argument for the stadium and a emotional one, and they should not be confused.

David Garber said...

NPS owns most of the Poplar Point area, but not all -- and much of their land is taken up by The US Park Police Aviation Section Facility (which includes a heliport
and a helicopter hanger), the US Park Police Anacostia Operations Facility and the National
Park Service, and the National Capital Parks-East Headquarters.

Despite the fact that NPS owns it, only parts of the area are dedicated to "parkland", and it is extremely underutilized and contaminated even as such.

Regardless, the current plans include acres of parkland.

Anonymous said...

$150 million of public funds is only the beginning. Capital improvements will be needed to handle the 30 pulses of traffic each year. Clark wants light rail from the Anacostia Metro station to the facility -- who will pay for that?

Publicly-funded stadiums have never paid for themselves anywhere in the USA in 4 decades. Calling them "economic development" projects is an insult to the intelligence of citizens and to the English language.

David Garber said...

the light rail is already planned and paid for by the city. It is completely separate from the Poplar Point / stadium project, and is beginning the first phase of construction soon.

Most of the infrastructure improvements in the larger context of Anacostia (roads, bridges, transit)are already planned, and are designed to handle development at Poplar Point.

I completely agree that we should not hold our wallets open when the prospect of new stadiums surfaces -- but if it is for the surrounding infrastucture, I don't have a problem investing in that. Of course, everyone has a different opinion.

Anonymous said...

Small correction to your post: Victor MacFarlane is the name of one of the owner/operators of DC United not MacFarland.

Anonymous said...

Yeah David!

Anonymous said...

From what I hear there is not overwhelming support for a Stadium from the Anacostia/Ward 8 Residents. In fact I remember reading an article in the post where there was a discussion from a group of resident weighing the pros and cons.

Just my 2 cents. A stadium is not the only way to bring economic development to the area.

stitchbones said...

RE: dg-rad;

NPS owns all of that land. If it's owned by the Park Service, then it's a National Park. Currently the land is part of the complex called National Capital Parks-East (NACE), which includes the "Fort Circle Parks" like Fort DuPont and Fort Chaplan, Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, Oxon Run Park, and Anacostia Park, which runs along the riverfront. Administratively they are all one park under one superintendant.

Poplar Point is currently occupied by a small waterfront playground, the Park Police headquarters, NACE headquarters, a meadow (right-of-way for the Metro Green Line), the former nursery for the Architect of the Capitol, and a forested wetland. All of the land is owned by the Park Service, and therefore falls under the National Park Service Organic Act, 16 U.S.C.1.

The Park Service must "...promote and regulate the use of the...national parks...which purpose is to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations."

This does not include giving it away to the city to be given to developers to increase the tax base.

Here are links to some of the wildlife found in this wasteland. FYI: willow flycatchers, overnbirds, least bitterns and American bitterns are all species of conservation need in DC, and are rarely found elswhere inside the city limits.

Anonymous said...

I really hope D.C., and especially Ward 8, isn't forced into another stadium project. That $150 million is a cap on the subsidy, but not on tax breaks and other creative financing methods I'm sure the city is working on. The problem with a stadium investment is, "what happens when the owners leave?" We're talking a hundreds of millions of dollars here, so of course the billionaire owners of D.C. United wouldn't want to get stuck with a massive, extremely illiquid investment. Guess who pays for it? Guess who pays even more when the neighborhood collapses because there's now a massive empty stadium unable to support the local economy and property values plummet? I'm not convinced that this is the best sort of development track we should be putting ourselves on.

Anonymous said...

Congress passed a law giving the "National Park Service" land at Poplar Point to the District of Columbia. Call it what you want, but it's already been given to the City to develop.

See Title III of

There are conditions required, which the City is working to meet.