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To build a soccer stadium, DC will swap the Reeves Center

DC has agreed to a preliminary deal to build a dedicated soccer stadium at Buzzard Point, and to redevelop the Reeves Center at 14th and U streets NW with a new mixed-use building.

Rendering of a Buzzard Point soccer stadium. Image from DC United.

Under the deal, the stadium would be located at the southern base of Potomac Avenue SW, just 4 blocks from Nationals Park. It would seat 20,000-25,000 people, and cost around $150 million to build. DC United would pay for construction, but the District would donate the land.

Development firm Akridge currently owns the land for the stadium. Instead of buying the land outright, DC would swap it for the Reeves Center. Akridge would then tear down and redevelop the Reeves Center, while United would build a stadium at Buzzard Point.

The deal must still be approved by the DC Council.

Is this a good idea?

Is Buzzard Point the right place for a stadium? Usually it’s not a great idea to put two large stadiums so close to each other, because when so much land is given over to sports, there’s not enough left over to build a functioning mixed-use neighborhood. That’s a major problem with Baltimore’s Camden Yards area, with the South Philadelphia Sports Complex, and with most multiple-stadium complexes.

But Buzzard Point may be different. Nationals Park has helped induce strong redevelopment east of South Capitol Street, and along M Street SE/SW, but the west side of South Capitol Street has lagged behind. The west side clearly functions as a different place, and a stadium there could help.

On the other hand, maybe the west side of South Capitol Street hasn’t redeveloped as much precisely because Nationals Park superblock is a barrier.

From a transportation perspective, Buzzard Point makes sense. Although it’s further from a Metro station than Nationals Park or RFK, it’s still within walking distance. And actually, a little bit of distance is a good thing, since it means soccer fans will pass by retail areas between the stadium and Metro, and that the most valuable land nearest the station can still be used for mixed-use development.

On top of the Metro connection, DC is planning for both the Georgia Avenue and Anacostia streetcar lines to terminate at Buzzard Point, directly adjacent to the proposed stadium site.

As for the Reeves Center, it cannot be redeveloped soon enough. A large city office building was a useful and necessary investment along U Street in the 1980s, when central DC was declining. But now the neighborhood is booming, the land is in high demand, and the Reeves Center is obsolete.

In a perfect world, I still think Poplar Point would have been a better location for a soccer stadium. But in the real world, Buzzard Point works. Since DC taxpayers won’t be on the hook to pay for construction, let’s do it.

 Cross-posted at Greater Greater Washington.

July 25th, 2013 | Permalink | {num}Comments
Tags: development

  • NANative

    DC United will have a difficult time getting the funding together. Dollars for doughnuts all infrastructure and related costs will end up being paid for by the taxpayer. More before this is completed. nnnnIt would make sense to give up on the redskins returning – especially with such a short season – and invest in RFK for soccer. With DC demographics a larger stadium – or at least a site with greater flexibility and room for enlargement makes more sense.nnnIf the Redskins want to come back let them buy the land and build their park. Or let them accept a venue with the primary profit point being outdoor events and concerts.

    • fischy

      First off the term sheet caps DC’s outlay for infrastucture, demolition, remediation,, etc., at $50 million. So, not more, at least not in that way. United won’t have any trouble getting funding. They have a big sugar daddy in Erick Thohir who just signed on to build a big new stadium in Milan for that city’s #2 team. Having said that, in these things. taxpayers always subsidize the development because of depreciation deductions, but there’s nothing unique to stadiums.

      • NANative

        Fischy,n As I don’t follow DC United I’m certain I couldn’t have been less informed before I posted. It never realized there was a change in ownership or of the resources at their disposal. I suspect the DC share for infrastructure will increase – but not nearly to the degree to quibble with the project.nnnThank you for your comment.

  • BeyondDC

    FYI: The GGW thread for this post is currently at 141 comments, and climbing. If you’re interested in discussing it with a lot of other people, that may be a better venue than here.



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