Sunday, January 27, 2008

So, Where Do We Stand...?

By Chris Pittman

Are things going well right now, or are they going bad? Is PG County devoting $75,000 dollars to stadium surveying good, or bad? I'm really having a hard time measuring our chances of success at Poplar Point right now. Jonetta Rose Barras seems pretty sure a deal will be made in the near future. Here's an excerpt from her blog...

Government sources say Fenty and his deputy mayor for planning and economic development, Neil Albert are poised to announce later this week the selection of the developer for Poplar Point. Their proposal of choice includes a soccer stadium, say sources. Two of four developers who presented last month their plans for the southeast site have included a stadium: Archstone-Smith, Madison/Marquette and Clark Realty.

Poplar Point development has been controversial since last summer when Fenty ended negotiations with
Victor MacFarlane, a developer and part owner of D.C. United soccer team. MacFarlane had thought he had an agreement that his company would have exclusive development rights because of discussions he had with former Mayor Anthony A. William. Not so said Fenty. And the game was on to find a developer.

Ward 8 Council member Barry and others in the community were angry over Fenty’s move, believing that a stadium would not be in the mix. But the plans submitted by proposed developers proved otherwise.
TBR could not determine which developer was actually chosen. Deputy Mayor Albert could not be reached for comment.

We now know that the timeline of her information is most definitely incorrect (since this was written on the 6th of this month), but one thing can be said of JR Barras, she knows her stuff. I don't see her writing that and being completely off-base. There has to be some truth to it. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Leap Frogger

By Chris Pittman

So, I don't think I have to say how I felt today when I read that Emperor Fenty is planning to present the Redskins with a proposal to return to The District and build a 100,000 seating dome on RFK (our current stadium). This was rumored to happen quite awhile ago, it's just that I think most fans (both United and Redskins) assumed that D.C. United's future would be resolved before anything was made official. Ahh how naive we all are.

To be honest when you step back and think about it, none of this is all that surprising. I mean look at the decisions Fenty has made in every dept. since taking office. He's sort of what I would call a leap frogger. He not only thinks ten steps ahead, but he (in most cases) just skips the nine in between so as to seem that he's getting alot done, when in actuality he's getting nothing done. It's not a bad political technique, I mean the guy did win every ward running on that policy. You have to give it to the guy, he's ambitious and he wants to change things. Whether he's going about it in the right or wrong manner has yet to be seen.

To come back to the point, Fenty lied to us. And Yes, I know all politicians lie, it's an obvious fact, but very rarely do politicians have the guts to do it so blatantly as Adrian Fenty did. He stood there in front of 26,000 people and petitioned for our vote in the promise that he would make a United stadium at Poplar Point a priority. This was said not only for the sake of the team, but also for the sake of the residents of Ward 8. He's a smart guy (I think). He knows what a development with a stadium will do for that ward. He knows that not only is it beneficial for United to stay within The District, it's also better for the District itself. He stood there, made his speech and stole the hearts of every United fan and Ward 8 resident in attendance.

Now nearly a year later and still no decision on Poplar Point after terminating direct talks with United six months ago Adrian Fenty is beginning to court Dan Snyder in hopes that they can build a stadium on top of ours. I am disgusted, and I say that being a lifelong Redskins fan. It's no secret that if the Redskins were to consider coming back to the district it would take alot of public money to make it happen. Snyder will not leave a 10 year old stadium unless The District shows him the money.

Didn't we offer to pay for our stadium in full? This is an un-even game of leap frog, and I'm afraid we're about to get hopped over.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

1/23/08: The Washington Post - Md. Weighs Stadium for D.C. United

Study Will Gauge Pr. George's Benefits

By Ovetta Wiggins Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 23, 2008; Page B01

With negotiations to build a stadium for D.C. United stalled in the District, Maryland officials have agreed to consider constructing a home for the soccer team in Prince George's County.

The Maryland Stadium Authority has decided to spend $75,000 on a feasibility study to look at the economic impact and potential tax benefits. The step concerned Vincent C. Gray, chairman of the D.C. Council, who noted the team's success and potential for financial growth.

"I continue to believe that we should work with D.C. United to construct the stadium in Poplar Point," Gray (D) said.

The study comes two months after Prince George's County Executive Jack B. Johnson (D) wrote a letter to David Raith, the stadium authority's acting director, asking the state to help the county lure the team.

In the letter, Johnson said that he met with Victor B. MacFarlane, the managing principal of the team, and Kevin Payne, the chief executive, in November and that they had expressed interest in sites in the county.

"Prince George's County is prepared to work with D.C. United to make this their new home, and would like the support and assistance of the Maryland Stadium Authority to make this happen," Johnson wrote.

United had been informally negotiating with Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) about building a stadium and mixed-use development at Poplar Point along the Anacostia River, but the talks broke down last summer.

United has shown interest in two locations in College Park. But David Byrd, deputy chief administrative officer for the county, said Johnson wants the team to build a stadium near the Metro stations in New Carrollton or Greenbelt, where it could anchor a mixed-used development.

"The new D.C. United stadium . . . would be a tremendous addition to our county, bringing not only great economic benefit but adding significantly to the identity of Prince George's County, and enhancing the lifestyle our residents and visitors enjoy," Johnson wrote.

The county's mission was also twofold when it pursued the Washington Redskins: to raise revenue and lift the image of a county that has been snubbed by investors for high-end retail and residential projects.

A 1997 report estimated that the football stadium, then known as Jack Kent Cooke Stadium, would generate $6 million in taxes a year: $2 million in property taxes and nearly $4 million in admission and sales taxes.

In fiscal 2006, the county received $10 million, including more than $8 million in admission and amusement taxes, from the stadium, now FedEx Field.

Raith said the stadium authority received approval from the state budget committees this month for the study, and it held a teleconference yesterday with companies interested in submitting proposals for the contract.

The contract is likely to be awarded late next month, and the report should be completed by late summer or early fall, Raith said.

The report will assess the direct and indirect impact of the stadium and the creation of jobs during construction and operation, and identify comparable facilities.

Johnson is not the only one who has suggested that Maryland try to lure the team. Comptroller Peter Franchot sent a letter to the authority's chairman, Frederick W. Puddester, in October suggesting that the state find a site for a stadium.

Franchot sent the letter to the stadium authority after learning that MacFarlane had hired consultants to look at potential sites in Maryland and Virginia.

Johnson said the county could expect more than 50 games and concerts at the stadium each year, with an attendance of more than 1 million.

"It's important to note the stadium will be a significant regional draw, bringing all new tax dollars to Prince George's County and our state," Johnson said.

He added that Prince George's has a "significant advantage over other jurisdictions in the region" because of its history with the stadium authority to promote similar developments.

Keeping The Faith

By Chris Pittman

"It takes a leap of faith to get things going,

It takes a leap of faith you gotta show some guts,

It takes a leap of faith to get things going,

In your heart you must trust"

-The Boss

When thinking about Poplar Point, it almost now seems like a dream. Some imagined place that is unattainable... unreachable. I almost forget how much of dump the place really is. I try to be rational about it and remind myself of the real life constrictions that now, and possibly will indefinitely impede us from building the park of our dreams there...

But thats when I'm thinking with my head...

When I dig down right into my gut, when I really search for how I feel about this debacle anymore I find faith. It's funny cause I've never been a very religious guy. It's never been the rational option to me. Faith? I think I barely know the meaning of the word in the context of organized religion. I guess in all honesty I've only felt true, real faith for a few things in my life. Two of them would be my family, and D.C. United. For a lot of Americans that'd be hard to believe, but I'm 21 years old now and I feel an amazing kinship with this team. It makes me question what faith really is? Whose to say that going to United games couldn't be considered a religious experience? I mean whats the difference? You meet once or twice a week, sing songs, and feel a connection. You're there with so many others who care deeply for the same things you do. How is it any different?

Maybe that's a stretch? I hope I didn't offend anyone with those remarks, and I'm sorry if thats the case. I don't mean to devalue religion or faith by comparing it to a soccer team, it's just the way I feel.

In short I just wanted to write and say that I, for one have faith. I have faith that Kevin Payne and Victor MacFarland are smart enough men to not have wasted these years chasing a dream. I have faith in the rational that if United were to not get a stadium at Poplar Point after all this time they would surely be the most incompetent sports organization I have ever known... and that just can't be. Can it?


I hope I don't loose my faith...

1/18/08: WTOP - Soccer Stadium at Poplar Point Could Help Nats Parking

Adam Tuss, WTOP Radio
January 18, 2008 - 4:02pm

The plan for a new soccer stadium could help ease the challenges of parking at the new baseball stadium.

D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty is expected to pick a developer for a 110-acre plot of land known as Poplar Point in Southeast by the end of the month. That land sits adjacent to the new ballpark, across the Anacostia River. Some of the possible plans for that plot of land do include a soccer stadium for D.C. United.

D.C. Council Chair Vincent C. Gray believes if a soccer stadium is built, parking around that complex could be used to add 4,000 to 5,000 additional parking spots for Nationals Park.

"Poplar Point really is very close to the site of the new baseball stadium, " says Gray.

With 20 to 25 dates reserved for soccer, Gray says baseball fans would have access to the soccer stadium lots.

"You could park over at Poplar Point, come across a pedestrian bridge, or otherwise be transported the short distance to the baseball stadium," says Gray.

The plan for more parking, along with Metro's recommendation that fans use the Green Line, could help ease the flow of crowds once the park opens. The first scheduled event at the new ballpark is March 29, an exhibition between the Nationals and Orioles.

(Copyright 2008 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)
Adam Tuss, WTOP Radio

WASHINGTON - The plan for a new soccer stadium could help ease the challenges of parking at the new baseball stadium.

D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty is expected to pick a developer for a 110-acre plot of land known as Poplar Point in Southeast by the end of the month. That land sits adjacent to the new ballpark, across the Anacostia River. Some of the possible plans for that plot of land do include a soccer stadium for D.C. United.

D.C. Council Chair Vincent C. Gray believes if a soccer stadium is built, parking around that complex could be used to add 4,000 to 5,000 additional parking spots for Nationals Park.

"Poplar Point really is very close to the site of the new baseball stadium, " says Gray.

With 20 to 25 dates reserved for soccer, Gray says baseball fans would have access to the soccer stadium lots.

"You could park over at Poplar Point, come across a pedestrian bridge, or otherwise be transported the short distance to the baseball stadium," says Gray.

The plan for more parking, along with Metro's recommendation that fans use the Green Line, could help ease the flow of crowds once the park opens. The first scheduled event at the new ballpark is March 29, an exhibition between the Nationals and Orioles.

(Copyright 2008 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

1/15/08: The Washington Post - Poplar Point Prospects Prompt Dialogue

Soccer Stadium Among Possibilities

Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 15, 2008; Page B01

The District government publicly unveiled several proposals last month to turn Poplar Point, a 110-acre swath of parkland along the An
acostia River, into a regional attraction. Since then, the possibilities for jobs and development have a lot of people expressing an opinion as the area moves another step closer to a plan being realized.

At least two plans include options for a soccer stadium, an idea that has enjoyed the backing of D.C. Council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) but doesn't have as much support across the city. A Washington Post poll of 1,000 residents conducted last week showed that 36 percent favored using public funds for a soccer stadium, but 60 percent opposed it.

A soccer stadium is just one of a number of issues about Poplar Point's future that have energized the discussion in Anacostia.

In a small community center, the Historic Anacostia Block Association held an hour-long discussion about the plans and the community's future. At a church, Barry gathered residents to hear their input. On the Web, a blog devoted to Anacostia news is conducting a poll of residents on the proposals.

"For the most part, folks are generally excited about what they're seeing," said Charles E. Wilson, co-founder of the block association, who moderated the discussion. "It's always good to have healthy discussion. We're not trying to come to consensus. We're trying to see how people feel."

The future of Poplar Point has been on the minds of Ward 8 residents for more than three years, ever since District officials announced plans to acquire the property from the federal government. But now that Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) has said he will choose a "master developer" this month to partner with the city, the project has taken on a sense of urgency in a community that has grown impatient with the city's pace.

Last week, the Fenty administration narrowed the competition to three development teams: Clark Realty Capital, Forest City and a joint effort from Archstone Smith and Madison Marquette. A winner could be announced next week, administration officials said.

Neil O. Albert, Fenty's deputy mayor for economic development, has said that the selection will be based largely on which developer has the expertise and finances to pull off a massive project that is rife with challenges. The city must relocate the National Park Service from the site and prepare the land for construction. It could take two more years before a developer breaks ground on the shops and restaurants that residents are so eager for, and a decade before the majority of the project is complete, city officials said.

Ultimately, Albert said, whichever developer is selected almost certainly will be asked to change plans several times. For residents, regardless of the winning selection, key factors are jobs and business opportunities in the city's poorest ward, where unemployment has hovered around 12 percent, the highest in the District.

"I'm willing to work with whoever wins," said M.J. Lee, an advisory neighborhood commissioner. "But we will be holding people accountable because, in the past, the government has failed in terms of awarding people jobs."

Under the terms of the competitive bid process established by the Fenty administration, the developers were asked to agree that 51 percent of all new jobs created by the Poplar Point development would go to District residents, with 20 percent reserved for residents of Ward 8. In addition, 35 percent of the contracts awarded by the master developer must go to small, disadvantaged businesses, including 10 percent located in Ward 8.
But many residents don't just want to be hired -- they want an ownership stake in the development. At a lively meeting on the Poplar Point plans called by Barry at the Bethlehem Baptist Church on a recent Saturday morning, Jackie Ward, a neighborhood activist, urged the audience of about 50 to ask the developers for equity.

"We have to go to the companies and tell them we want our people trained and the mechanisms to make sure our people can take advantage," she said.

The Fenty administration has asked the companies to wait until a winner is selected before talking with residents about the specifics of economic opportunities.

Each development team included in its plan such basics as housing, retail, restaurants and a 70-acre park mandated as part of the transfer of control of Poplar Point from the federal government to the city. It's the "extras" that have people talking.

So far, Clark's proposal has emerged as the favorite. The plan includes a three-block "deck" that would be built over Interstate 295 so that residents could walk from historic Anacostia to the new development, an environmental museum and business hub, a charter school and an optional soccer stadium.

Clark got the biggest reaction from the crowd of 300 who attended the public unveiling of the plans last month at Birney Elementary School. And of the 52 votes registered in the online poll at the Web site, 38 have gone to Clark.

"They seemed to hit every aspect -- a school, retail, housing, entertainment, a museum for green space, national parkland," said Greta Fuller, an advisory neighborhood commissioner. "We want to see more than housing; we want to see our community have its own grandstand. We go to Georgetown, U Street, Old Town, but where do we really go in Ward 8?"

Clark's rise has been aided by Barry and his allies, who have supported building a 27,000-seat soccer stadium for D.C. United at Poplar Point. Fenty broke off negotiations with team owner Victor B. MacFarlane last summer, saying his proposal to build a mixed-use development anchored by the stadium required too much public subsidy.

Barry, who has criticized Fenty for snubbing MacFarlane, is supporting the two plans that include stadiums, Clark's and the proposal from Archstone Smith and Madison Marquette.

MacFarlane, who was in attendance when the proposals were unveiled last month, is said to be interested in investing in the project, no matter which company wins.

The Ward 8 community continues to be divided.

"Residents who are asking for a stadium lack vision about . . . what else we can bring. That's dangerous and limiting, " Cynthia Davenport told her neighbors during the Historic Anacostia Block Association meeting. A stadium "would endanger the environs, and add to traffic. . . . The reason I live here is green space."

But Catherine Buell disagreed. To her, Ward 8 needs a major draw, something to attract outsiders to Poplar Point. "We do not necessarily need a stadium," she responded to Davenport, "but we need a reason for people to come to this big mass of land."

Yavocka Young, who bought her house in historic Anacostia 14 years ago, said during the block association meeting that she had considered moving because of the lack of basic services in her neighborhood. But after seeing the Poplar proposals, Young, the executive director of Main Street Anacostia, a nonprofit economic development group, said, "It makes me want to say, 'I'm staying.' ".

1/11/08: Baltimore Business Journal - Stadium Study Could Boost State's Attempt To Lure D.C. Soccer Team

By. Ryan Sharrow Staff
Baltimore Business Journal
Friday, January 11, 2008

The Maryland Stadium Authority will oversee a study to assess the economic impact of a new Prince George's County stadium that would be home to the D.C. United professional soccer team.

The stadium authority got the green light from the Maryland General Assembly's budget committee Jan. 2 to proceed with the study on the possible relocation of D.C. United to the state, according to a copy of the letter written by Senate Budget Committee Chair Ulysses Currie and obtained by the Business Journal.

The stadium authority will use up to $75,000 in "non-budgeted funds" for the study, said David A. Raith, acting executive director of the stadium authority. The state agency received legislative approval several years ago to spend its own money on studies.

"What we're looking for [in the study] is what the economic impact will be for the state, local county and private [industry] that will support the project cost," he said.

The stadium authority first received a letter from Prince George's County Executive Jack B. Johnson on Nov. 9 requesting the state agency's assistance with luring D.C. United to the county, according to the letter from Johnson.

Talk of Maryland building a new stadium for the United began to heat up in the fall after discussions between D.C. officials and United owner Victor MacFarlane broke down on the possibility of building a new 27,000-seat venue at Poplar Point in the District.

State Comptroller Peter Franchot wrote a letter to Maryland Stadium Authority Chairman Frederick W. Puddester asking him to explore the opportunities of bringing D.C. United to the state.

Meanwhile, D.C. officials are still trying to retain the Major League Soccer franchise. The United currently plays in the 46-year-old RFK Stadium in Southeast D.C.

It is uncertain how the cost for the potential new stadium in Prince George's County would be funded. MacFarlane had previously offered to foot the $150 million bill to build a new stadium in D.C.

The stadium authority will issue a request for proposals for the study within the next 60 days, Raith said, and the findings could be released by this fall. It is unclear whether the study will examine a specific location, Raith said.

Julie Chase, a spokeswoman for MacFarlane, declined to comment. Officials with Prince George's County could not be reached for comment.

1/4/08: The Examiner - Fenty Deputy Quits

By Bill Myers, The Examiner
Jan 4, 2008 3:00 AM

Neil Richardson, deputy chief of staff to Mayor Adrian Fenty and one of the mayor’s oldest political allies, left the administration Thursday after several months of growing disenchantment with the mayor’s management style, sources said.

Richardson, who had helped Fenty mount a historic door-to-door campaign that made him the District of Columbia’s youngest mayor, confirmed his resignation to The Examiner. He said it was effective immediately.

“Right now, my relationship with the mayor isn’t particularly strong,” Richardson told The Examiner. “But I want him to be successful. I want the city to thrive.”

Sources close to Richardson told The Examiner that he had grown increasingly disillusioned with Fenty since last year’s election. Fenty has been criticized for his secretive style and for emphasizing good public relations over good public policy.

Sources close to Richardson said that he had openly broken with his longtime friend over the development of the Poplar Point project east of the river.

Richardson thought that Fenty was deliberately stalling on the project in a poor neighborhood so that credit wouldn’t go to political rivals.

Carrie Brooks, spokeswoman for Fenty, sent a statement Thursday saying, “We wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors.”

She declined further comment.

In early December, Attorney General Linda Singer left the administration. Richardson, though, was one of Fenty’s earliest and most dogged supporters. He and the then-council member knocked on doors for two years before Fenty swept every ward in the city.

After the breach over Poplar Point, Richardson, who had worked in the mayor’s “bullpen” — the open cubicles on the third floor of the Wilson Building — was banished to One Judiciary Square in November. Fenty had his Chief of Staff Tene Dolphin deliver the news to Richardson, sources said.

Sources said that Richardson asked to meet with Dolphin just before Christmas and said that he was thinking of leaving. During the discussion, Fenty walked in and asked what was up. When Richardson told Fenty he was thinking of leaving, the mayor said, “You’ll have to talk to Tene about that” and walked out of the room, sources said.

Got a tip on the Fenty administration? Call Bill Myers at 202-459-4956 or send him an e-mail,

1/3/08: The Washington Post - Fenty's Deputy Resigns, Citing Disappointment With D.C. Mayor

Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 3, 2008; 6:42 PM

D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's deputy chief of staff has resigned after a year on the job, citing growing disenchantment with the mayor's governing style.

Neil Richardson worked on Fenty's mayoral campaign for two years, often walking door-to-door with him, and helped him develop "best practices" during trips to several big cities shortly before Fenty (D) took office last January.

He was rewarded with a seat in the mayor's bullpen office. Among his duties was organizing events for initiatives such as D.C.'s effort to win a vote in Congress and community meetings related to Fenty's takeover of the public schools.

But Richardson was reassigned in October to an office called Serve DC and asked to create a volunteer program to help the school system. The demotion came after he disagreed with Fenty on several issues and complained that the mayor was not listening enough to stakeholders, government sources said.

For example, Richardson, a former semi-pro soccer player, pushed for Fenty to support building a soccer stadium for D.C. United along the Anacostia River in Ward 8 and expressed unhappiness when the mayor broke off negotiations with the team last summer.

"I was disappointed that an administration that was built on strong populist tendencies has gotten to a place where the council and the public feel left out of decisions," Richardson said today. "I believe this is the opposite of what people had expected and hoped for when our campaign won every precinct in the city."

Richardson also resigned from the administration of former mayor Anthony A. Williams (D), where he held a community organizing post. In May 2005 opinion piece in The Washington Post, Richardson wrote that he was disappointed with Williams's initiative to engage residents.

Richardson becomes the second official to leave the Fenty administration in the past three weeks, following former Attorney General Linda Singer, who resigned because she believed Fenty was listening more often to then-General Counsel Peter Nickles.

Fenty declined through a spokeswoman to comment on Richardson's departure.

12/18/07: The Washington Post - From Soccer Mogul to Downtown Developer

Raw Fisher
When D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty last week announced his choice to develop the sprawling, $700 million, mixed-income new community that is supposed to replace some of Washington's most troubled and dangerous housing projects, the named developers were all smiles up at the podium with the mayor.

But hanging back in the rear corner of the church basement where Fenty made his pick public was a tall, elegant fellow who is increasingly a powerful presence in the city's big development schemes. You'll search in vain for the name Victor MacFarlane in the official record of what's going to become Northwest One, the new name for the downtown area where the Sursum Corda and Temple Courts housing projects now stand, between North Capitol Street and New Jersey Avenue NW, just north of K Street.

But MacFarlane was on hand because while the respected Washington developers William C. Smith Cos. and the Jair Lynch Cos. won the sweepstakes to build more than 1,600 units of housing as well as a whole mess of retail and office space, the owner of the DC United soccer team and manager of $15 billion in assets will help finance a significant chunk of the project, according to MacFarlane and some city officials.

Every era of the city's progression has its iconic developer--think of Oliver Carr putting up office boxes in Marion Barry's new K Street of lobbyists and lawyers, or Jeff Cohen making early forays into neighborhood gentrification in deals that got the Barry administration into significant legal trouble, or Doug Jemal preserving historic buildings during the renaissance of the Williams years (Uline Arena, the Avalon Theater, the Seventh Street shops across from the Abe Pollin Arena, the Woodies building, the Sixth and I synagogue.)

Now MacFarlane is positioning himself to be a force for extending the city's development while standing up for the District's black majority. The developer, who is black, has allied himself with neighborhood residents who are wary of development that they believe is inexorably altering the city's racial composition.

Officially, D.C. development director David Jannarone says, MacFarlane is not playing any role in the years-long effort to take down the drug-ridden Sursum Corda project and replace it with a signature initiative of both the Anthony Williams and Adrian Fenty administrations--an all-new neighborhood with housing split between market rate units, partly subsidized apartments for working class residents, and heavily subsidized units for the low-income families who are being displaced.

"I can tell you MacFarlane is not in the deal now," Jannarone says. "Our goal is to get as much local disadvantaged business enterprise money in this deal as possible, and he's not a disadvantaged business enterprise."

No, there's likely not a soul on the planet who would accuse MacFarlane of being disadvantaged.

But MacFarlane is nonetheless deeply involved in this project, and in a fast-increasing number of others around the city. He's in on deals near the new baseball stadium, he's lobbying the city hard to get a soccer stadium built at Poplar Point, the national parkland just across the Anacostia River from the baseball park, and now he's involved downtown too.

"Victor's group is a great source of capital for neighborhood developers," says Jair Lynch, who predicts it will take five to seven years to get the whole Northwest One project built.

The push to redevelop the Sursum Corda area gained meaningful energy after the 2004 murder of Princess Hansen, a seventh grader who was out at three in the morning doing what it took to score drugs. Then-Mayor Williams vowed to clean up the neighborhood, and he promised that Sursum Corda would be replaced not by megabucks condos, but by a mixed-income community that would be safe, modern, attractive, and--for a lucky few hundred families--affordable.

Now, after three difficult years of negotiations with current residents and possible investors, the city and the new development team found themselves agreeing to let Sursum Corda's current management company, Kettler (formerly KSI), in on the deal. Despite widespread complaints that the firm was harassing residents and barring city employees from the property, Kettler will be part of the new development team, largely to buy legal and political peace and get the new project moving.

Is this another example of Fenty's political style in action? The mayor has a knack for cobbling together companies that are otherwise wary competitors, forcing them to work in partnership on big city projects. Does MacFarlane's role in Northwest One mean he's moved on and is out of the picture at Poplar Point? It looks that way, but Fenty says that doesn't at all mean that the District is giving up on keeping the pro soccer team in town.

Despite efforts by Maryland officials to woo the United to that state, Fenty says the District will offer the team alternative spots in the city. "Absolutely there are other sites," he told me. "There may even be ones that the team prefers to Poplar Point."

The mayor wasn't naming other locations, but the prime candidate may turn out to be the place where the mayor hopes to launch his second New Community, replacing another long-troubled housing project: Barry Farms in Southeast, quite close to the Poplar Point park.

And MacFarlane, who just a few weeks ago adamantly and angrily contended that DC United had been completely boxed out of the Poplar Point area, is now humming a different tune. Might the team still end up with a stadium near Poplar Point, I asked. "Absolutely," MacFarlane replied. Stay tuned.

By Marc Fisher | December 18, 2007; 7:06 AM ET

12/13/07: Washington City Paper - Reviewing the Poplar Point Proposals

Last night, a motley group of businessmen, government types, ministers, and local residents packed into the Birney Elementary gymnasium in Anacostia to witness four developers lay out what they’ve envisioned for Poplar Point—the 130-acre tract on the Anacostia River east of South Capitol Street recently handed over to the District by the federal government.

Each group had 15 minutes to present their plan. They were allowed to have up to two persons do the presentation, and they weren’t allowed to use notes.

The whole exercise was a bit ridiculous, considering that whatever ends up getting built will go through so many approval and review processes, not to mention economic feasibility reviews, that it will likely look little like what hit the PowerPoint screen last night. More than anything, the meeting was a derby between the four developers to see who could ooh-and-aah the crowd the most. What mattered most in that regard: a soccer stadium, which D.C. United owner Victor MacFarlane has apparently successfully sold to Ward 8. Councilmember Marion Barry told the crowd, “We like all four proposals, but we like the one that’ll have a stadium first.”

Keeping that in mind, here’s a rundown:

Archstone-Smith/Madison Marquette: The Archstone Madison posse probably had the best presenter of the night: Calvin Gladney of local outfit Mosaic Urban Partners, who laid out a day at Poplar Point in a cool, well-rehearsed voice. Gladney & Co. promised a “major retail center,” perhaps along the lines of Gallery Place, “where as soon as it’s built people will want to come there.” Other sweeteners: These guys propose to set aside 20 percent of “small shop space” for local businesses and include a concert hall. “Maybe on some occasions Jay-Z would be performing there, or maybe on other occasions, it will be the Ballou High School marching band,” Gladney said. There was also talk of a “job incubator.” The big crowd pleaser, though, was the fact that Archstone included a soccer stadium in the plans. 2.4 million sq. ft. residential, 1.95 million office, 994,000 retail. Ooh-and-Ahh Grade: B+

Clark Realty Capital: These guys, part of the local Clark construction monolith, spent a little bit of time touting their local bona fides before moving on to what was undoubtedly the most ambitious proposal of the evening. The killer feature? The “Deck,” bitches, the “Deck”! That would be a three-block-wide lid over Interstate 295, which would do way more than any of the other proposals to connect Historic Anacostia to Poplar Point and the waterfront. Besides the Deck, there’s four other parts: The residential “Village at Poplar Point,” which would include a grocery store “along the lines of a Whole Foods or Harris Teeter”; the “Metro Soccer District,” which includes, yes, a soccer stadium; the “Preserve,” billed as “A Waterfront Version of New York’s Central Park”; and the “International Environment Center,” a business area billed as a “Silicon Valley for the Environmental Community.” That might include a “National Hall of the Environment,” a museum which would be on the tip of Poplar Point, facing the Capitol. Other things thrown in there: a 1,200-student K-12 KIPP charter school (which got the biggest cheer of the night from the crowd), a theater, and an open-air market. 3.8 million sq. ft. residential, 1.53 million office, 405,000 retail. Ooh-and-Ahh Grade: A

Forest City Washington: These guys blew it hard. FCW chief Deborah Ratner Salzburg got up at the beginning and explained they didn’t become aware of the no-notes, only-two-presenters rule until yesterday afternoon. Hence, Salzburg and a fellow presenter spent way too much time pumping up their own cred in the business community—spending, for instance, a good three minutes running down all the trusted inner-city types they’ve worked with: Al Sharpton, former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb, former Ohio Congressman Louis Stokes (who was in attendance). They only got to their actual plans with about three minutes left in the presentation. About all that the crowd could take away: The plan involves three “fingers” surrounded by parkland. A few pluses for Forest City, though: They had probably the best-looking PowerPoint show (too bad they had to flip through the actual site plans super-quick) and they seemed to be the only ones who made a point of saying their proposal actually reflected what was realistic (hence, no soccer stadium)—even though theirs proposed the largest square footage of development. 4.3 million sq. ft. residential, 1.26 million office, 415,600 retail. Ooh-and-Ahh Grade: C-

General Growth/Mid-City Urban: These folks proposed the smallest amount of square footage (about 3.5 million less than Forest City) but their big thing is education, promising the “largest learning sportsplex” in the D.C. area—bigger than the Prince George’s Sports and Learning Complex near FedExField and bigger than the South Germantown Recreational Park in Montgomery County. There’s also a UDC satellite campus on the premises. And these guys, too, were big on green. “Green technology,” to be specific: “We will bring the Googles. We will bring the Microsofts. We will bring the Sun Microsystems,” said a presenter. As far as cool shit, the big deal was the aerial tram crossing the river. (At one point the presenter mentioned a tram “all the way to Roosevelt Island,” but good luck getting that past the National Capital Planning Commission and the Commission of Fine Arts.) They did have—by a long shot—the most amateur-looking PowerPoint show. But when it comes to the logo wars, these guys were the undisputed champs. Here’s some of the logos that appeared on a single PowerPoint slide: AMC theaters, Best Buy, Bed Bath and Beyond, Dave & Buster’s, the Sharper Image, Chili’s, Cheesecake Factory, Costco, Starbucks, Victoria’s Secret, the Body Shop, Barnes & Noble, Macy’s, TGI Friday’s, Lowe’s, Olive Garden, and Discount Shoe Warehouse. Damn, don’t you feel like shoppin’ already? 2.65 million sq. ft. residential, 250,000 office, 467,000 retail. Ooh-and-Ahh Grade: B

12/13/07: The Washington Business Journal - Developers sketch out competing plans for Poplar Point

By Jonathan O'Connell

Washington Business Journal
Thursday, December 13, 2007

Jay-Z, Google, a charter school and other attractions were dangled before residents of D.C.'s Ward 8 by four groups vying to develop 130 acres of riverfront property on Poplar Point.

In a room in Birney Elementary School filled with city officials, developers and dozens of local residents, each team took 15 minutes on Dec. 13 to explain its plans for new housing, retail, office space, hotels, entertainment venues, parks and public services.

The city is expected to choose a development team early next year.

The audience at the presentation included Victor MacFarlane, president of the company that owns D.C. United, which is interested in the site for a new stadium. Three of the development groups mentioned a possible soccer stadium.

Other offered attractions included music venues, offices that might draw technology companies and transportation that would better connect Anacostia to the rest of the city.

A team of Archstone Smith -- one of the companies developing the old convention center site -- and Madison Marquette suggested a complex with a central shopping center, which was likened to Gallery Place. The project features 994,000 square feet of retail, more than twice as much as the other teams are offering, and the most office space, 1.9 million square feet. Archstone Smith representative Daniel McCahan said his team was in discussions with a nationally known entertainment venue.

Clark Realty Capital LLC proposed that existing neighborhoods be connected with Poplar Point by building a "deck" over Interstate 295. The Clark proposal also included a center for environmental companies and a museum. The company drew cheers when it talked about building a pre-K through grade 12 school in partnership with KIPP, the network of charter schools that already serves hundreds of Ward 8 children.

Forest City, which is developing The Yards near the Nationals ballpark, said it is in learning more from the community before making firm plans. "This will be what you want it to be," said Alex Nyhan, Forest City development manager and a former official with the deputy mayor's office. The company proposed a set of neighborhoods and parks with street-level retail, a 50,000 square foot floating ampitheater and more housing than the other teams: 4.084 units, including 3 million square feet of condominiums. Nyhan said the Forest City team is seeking 25 percent ownership by companies designated as "local, small, disadvantaged business enterprises."

Mid-City Urban and General Growth Properties proposed a smaller development with more green space and wetlands, along with an extension campus of the University of the District of Columbia. They also offered a promise to make 40 percent the group's 4,700 housing units affordable and half the affordable units available to purchase. Scott Nordheimer of Mid-City Urban touted his company's record in building or rebuilding more than 900 units in Ward 8, including Henson Ridge on Alabama Avenue SE. He also noted that the developer contributed to a resurgence that brought the new Giant Food grocery store to the former Camp Simms site.

The team's presentation lacked any reference to a previously announced partner, Doracon Development. News reports last month in Baltimore, site of Doracon Contracting's headquarters, said the company was being investigated for contracting fraud.

On the issue of the soccer stadium, Clark billed its proposal as an extension of the planning residents had done with MacFarlane Partners before development of Poplar Point was opened to bidding.

"We've tried to continue to build on the work you've done," Clark's Cleve Johnson told the audience.

He said the company's construction arm had built other stadiums, including the Nationals ballpark, and would work to "get a deal done between the District and Mr. MacFarlane, if at all possible."

The Archstone team said its project could be anchored by a soccer stadium or entertainment venue.

Nyhan, of Forest City, said if the District, D.C. United and the community want a soccer stadium, "we will deliver it."

MacFarlane, after seeing all the bids, said in an interview that he liked Clark's plan because of the density it offered but also liked aspects of Archstone Smith's.

He said the time to partner with one the development teams was now, not after the city chooses, "so we can cut off looking at other places" that have been "very welcoming."

Councilman Marion Barry, D-Ward 8, made clear that a soccer stadium was still a top priority for him, rallying the crowd to repeat the words "soccer stadium" upon his arrival. In an interview afterward, he said the only two plans he would consider were Clark's and Archstone Smith's.

"As far as I'm concerned, it's down to two," Barry said.

The three-hour meeting ended with James Bunn of the Ward 8 Business Council and others yelling at the developers for offering jobs and training to residents, but not equity in the project, which the development teams disputed.

An earlier version of this story misstated the role of Mid-City Urban in the development of the Giant Food grocery store at the former Camp Sims site.

12/13/07: The Washington Post - Visions of Vibrancy: Designs for Anacostia Combine Community, Commerce

Designs for Anacostia Combine Community, Commerce

Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 13, 2007; Page B01

An aerial tram carries tourists over the Anacostia River to the Washington Nationals' new baseball stadium. Waterside amphitheaters and a museum provide cultural entertainment. A cluster of companies focused on the environment creates an international business hub.

And a sports and learning center, a charter school and an extension campus for the University of the District of Columbia offer new opportunities for students.
This was how officials from four development companies described their visions for Poplar Point, a 110-acre strip of parkland in Ward 8 that could become one of Washington's hottest neighborhoods.

The firms are competing for the right to partner with Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's administration to develop the land. During a two-hour public meeting last night at Birney Elementary School, mayoral aides and company officials described a vibrant new community featuring condos, offices, big-box retailers, a movie theater, a grocery store and a hotel.

Fenty (D) has called Poplar Point a rare opportunity to spread economic development to a neglected ward and create a regional entertainment center. No matter which firm is selected, however, the development will take years because the city must remediate the land and relocate the National Park Service, whose headquarters is on the property.

Valerie Santos Young, chief operating officer for Fenty's economic development office, said the administration is pleased with the results of the bidding.

"We think there are elements of each proposal that are very creative," she said.

A standing-room-only crowd packed the Birney auditorium to hear the proposals, and D.C. council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8), addressing those gathered, said, "We want retail, we want housing that is affordable and we want a stadium."

The proposals offered Ward 8 residents their first glimpse of alternatives to plans from D.C. United owner Victor B. MacFarlane, who has lobbied the city to build 8 million square feet of mixed-use development anchored by a 27,000-seat soccer stadium. Last summer, Fenty halted the negotiations, saying MacFarlane's plan, which required $350 million in public subsidies, was too expensive.

After Fenty opened the bidding process to find a "master developer," MacFarlane chose not to enter and threatened to move the soccer team to the suburbs. Two of the four plans unveiled last night-- from Clark Realty Capital and a joint venture from Archstone Smith and Madison Marquette -- make room for a soccer stadium, and in both cases the complex is optional.

"The decision making is out of our hands," Julie Chase, MacFarlane's spokeswoman, said yesterday.

Each proposal features 4 million to 6 million square feet of development and includes the 70 acres of parkland required by the federal government, which is in the process of transferring control of Poplar Point to the District. Rounding out the bidders are Forest City and a joint effort from General Growth, Mid-City Urban and Doracon.

Each plan probably would require tens of millions of dollars in public subsidies, but city officials declined to disclose the financial terms because the proposals are preliminary. Fenty's office hopes to select a master developer by next month.

The administration asked developers to present ideas that connected Ward 8 neighborhoods such as Anacostia and Barry Farm to the riverfront and took advantage of environmental planning underway to clean up the river.
Clark Realty Capital took a unique approach to the first charge, proposing to build a "deck" the size of three city blocks over Interstate 295 that would allow residents to walk or drive from one side of the highway to the other. The platform would be landscaped and have shops and offices built on top.

"There's a wall separating the community from its most valuable assets, and that's I-295," said Bereket Selassie, a development executive at Clark. "We have eliminated that barrier."

Clark also proposed creating a cluster of buildings near the waterfront meant to lure companies dedicated to the environment, Selassie said.

The proposal from General Growth, Mid-City Urban and Doracon focuses largely on education, featuring an extension campus for UDC and a sports and learning complex similar to the one in Prince George's County, said Lyneir Richardson, a vice president for General Growth. The company also proposes an aerial tram that would carry passengers across the river to the new baseball stadium.

"We wanted to do something visionary and cool," Richardson said. He noted that the company, which proposes 2.65 million square feet of housing, has committed to making 40 percent of the units available for lower-income residents. Although each proposal featured retail -- Ward 8 residents have called for years for more shopping options -- the Archstone Smith/Madison Marquette offering was by far the most ambitious. They proposed big-box stores as part of almost 1 million square feet of retail, more than twice the amount proposed by the other firms. Archstone representatives stressed that they would reserve 20 percent of the retail space for area merchants.

Forest City took the most unique route to incorporating parkland, focusing on weaving the 70 acres into the rest of the development in a "park fingers" design, or one in which park areas are spread like fingers on a hand. The company also proposed more than 3 million square feet of condos -- about 1 million more than other firms.

"Because the park is over 70 acres, we wanted to enliven it by creating a varied series of spaces like Central Park in Manhattan," Alex Nyhan, a development manager for the company, wrote in an e-mail.

11/29/07: The Washington Post - Would They Call It P.G. United?

Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, November 29, 2007; Page DZ01

And now, representing the Washington region in Major League Soccer, it's your Prince George's United!

Fans of the storied D.C. United soccer franchise, winner of four league titles, might protest such an announcement. But it looks as though team owner Victor B. MacFarlane is following through on his pledge to explore other locations in case his bid to build a stadium in the District falls through.
David Byrd, a high-ranking Prince George's County official, told The Washington Post last week that MacFarlane has expressed interest in sites in Greenbelt and New Carrollton, where the team had looked a few years ago. Both of those areas are Metro-accessible and have land sufficient to accommodate a mixed-use development anchored by a stadium, Byrd said.

MacFarlane has met with Prince George's County Executive Jack B. Johnson (D) to discuss the matter, according to two sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the negotiations are preliminary. United plays at 46-year-old RFK Stadium, where MacFarlane has said the franchise is losing $10 million a season.

"I've been told he's looking very closely" at Prince George's, Byrd said. "We hope that Victor MacFarlane feels Prince George's County is a great place for the team."

Prince George's also has a large Latino community, which has made up a sizable portion of United's fan base, Byrd noted. He declined to disclose what economic incentives the county might offer the team.

Last summer, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) halted negotiations with MacFarlane over the team's proposal to build a 27,000-seat stadium and other development at Poplar Point, parkland along the Anacostia River in Ward 8. The Fenty administration is considering four alternative proposals for Poplar Point, not all of which would include a stadium, and will present them to the public in about two weeks.

11/22/07: The Washington Post - Three Eliminated In Fight for Poplar Point Bid

KWAME R. BROWN (Courtesy Of Kwame Brown)

By Nikita Stewart and David Nakamura
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, November 22, 2007; Page DZ01

Well, that was fast.

Two weeks after receiving seven bids from companies hoping to develop Poplar Point, a swath of more than 110 acres of parkland along the Anacostia River, D.C. planners have narrowed the field to four.

Last week Neil O. Albert, the deputy mayor for economic development, announced the shortlist: a joint venture from Archstone-Smith and Madison Marquette; Clark Realty Capital; Forest City Enterprises; and a joint venture of General Growth Properties, Mid-City Urban and Doracon.

D.C. United has proposed building a soccer stadium, along with mixed-use development, at Poplar Point, but Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) broke off negotiations with the team in the summer. United officials have threatened to relocate to the suburbs if they are unable to get a new stadium in the city.

D.C. officials have said a stadium is still possible, along with housing, offices, shops and park space. The companies will be asked to present their proposals to the public next week, officials said.

The three companies that have been eliminated from the competition are City Interests, Urban City Ventures and Capital Area Regional Center Job Fund.

11/19/07: The Washington Post - Site Search Continues

Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 19, 2007; Page E08

United President Kevin Payne said the club continues to keep its options open in search of a site for a new stadium.

"Time is a very important consideration for us, and as such, it's going to be a big role in our decision," he said. "Whoever can come up with the right location, the right economic deal and the appropriate political will to make it happen, that's where we are going to go."

At least five banners were on display during MLS Cup at RFK Stadium expressing support for the club's proposal to build a stadium in the District. . . .

11/9/07: The Washington Post - Calling In The Ward 8 Cavalry

Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, November 8, 2007; Page DZ01

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty has a new hired gun to help him maintain support in Ward 8, where residents have complained that he's moving too slowly on a plan to build a soccer stadium at Poplar Point, 110 acres along the Anacostia River.

The Fenty administration hired Phinis Jones, a longtime resident with deep ties to influential Ward 8 leaders, about three weeks ago to do "community outreach" on Poplar Point. In this case, that might be a euphemism for "damage control."
Ward 8 leaders have been increasingly vocal in their support for D.C. United's plan to build a stadium as an anchor to mixed-use development. But Fenty (D) broke off talks with United over the summer and launched a formal process to solicit alternative proposals.

Since then, D.C. Council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) has beaten up on Fenty during community meetings, calling him and his aides "nice people who don't know what they're doing." Now, Fenty is fighting back in the form of Jones, who has lived in Ward 8 for 38 years.

Jones, who referred requests for comment to the Fenty administration, has a long history in city politics. In 1995, Barry nominated Jones to head construction of the city's convention center, but Jones was forced to withdraw after being tied to a scandal involving a businessman who renovated Barry's home.

More recently, Jones served as Fenty's campaign coordinator for Ward 8, helping him in his historic sweep of every precinct last year.

At a recent meeting of the Anacostia Coordinating Council, Jones told the audience that his role is to inform the public about the process at Poplar Point and to bring their input back to the mayor. He seemed particularly eager to temper expectations about the development's timetable.

Poplar Point is owned by the federal government, which has agreed to transfer control to the District. But the process will take years, including significant environmental study and remediation, he noted. Development on the property probably will begin no sooner than 2011, Jones said, to the dismay of many in the audience.

During the question-and-answer session, as residents expressed frustration with the Fenty administration, Jones did his best to parry the blows, occasionally reminding audience members that like them he lives in Ward 8. To Barry, Jones's performance made clear why Fenty hired him.

"He wanted to shut me up," Barry said of the mayor. "But I told Phinis, 'Don't do anything to undercut the will of this community.' "

Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development Neil O. Albert scoffed when told of Barry's comments. "We wanted somebody who understood the ward," Albert said of Jones.

11/4/07: The Washington Post - Ward 8 Area Seeing Few Results From Fenty, Some Residents Say

Fenty's Cabinet visited Parkway Overlook Apartments in January to show commitment to Southeast Washington. The building has since gone into foreclosure. (By Susan Biddle -- The Washington Post)

By David Nakamura
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, November 4, 2007; Page A01

Six days after Adrian M. Fenty became mayor of the District, he took his Cabinet on a tour of a dilapidated, violence-plagued apartment complex in Ward 8 in Southeast Washington. Strolling around the block, he promised curious onlookers that he would not forget them.

It was the first of Fenty's numerous visits to the city's poorest ward, a strategy aimed at avoiding the pitfalls of his predecessor, Anthony A. Williams, who oversaw a downtown renaissance but was mocked in neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River, where services lagged.

But as Fenty (D) nears the end of his first year in office, a growing impatience for more tangible development in Ward 8 is testing his pledge to create a government that serves all communities equitably and bridges the economic divide that grew during the past decade.

Led by D.C. Council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8), community leaders contend that Fenty has used their neighborhoods as a political backdrop but failed to follow up his rhetoric with action. Although the mayor titled his State of the District address "Moving Forward Faster" and delivered it at a Ward 8 senior center, residents worry that the ward never made it onto Fenty's fast track.

Theresa Howe-Jones, an advisory neighborhood commissioner, said she has watched the mayor respond quickly to rebuild the Georgetown Library and Eastern Market after fires and demand that fire hydrants in Adams Morgan be tested. But she wonders why her long-standing concerns about hydrants in Southeast have gone unaddressed.

"They had the attention placed on them, but none is placed on us out here," she said. "It's all right to come out here and make an announcement, but when it comes to implementing an idea or issue and you don't do it, that sends a signal that you don't want to do it in the first place."

The flash point for many residents' frustration was Fenty's decision this summer to break off negotiations with D.C. United over a proposal to build a soccer stadium that would anchor a massive mixed-use project on 110 acres of parkland along the Anacostia known as Poplar Point. After three years of meetings with government officials, ward leaders said they had reached consensus on United's plan, which includes housing, offices and stores, only to be blindsided when Fenty reopened the process. During the same period, the Nationals' new baseball stadium has been nearly completed on the other side of the river.

Residents had begun to envision Poplar Point as a catalyst for a commercial revitalization of the area the way Verizon Center helped transform Seventh Street. Because they have waited years for long-promised development, some are running out of patience.

"It caught me off guard. I thought we were moving ahead, but then it seemed like everything stopped," said David Smith, who lives in Ward 8 and runs a youth outreach program there. "We don't have time to wait. We need expediency."

Jackie Ward, an advisory neighborhood commissioner, said that three days before Fenty suspended talks with United in July, the mayor told an audience at Union Temple Baptist Church that he would support the stadium.

"He said it seems to be the will of the people and he will go along with what the people want," Ward said.

Barry, who served four terms as mayor, has held several meetings during which he has urged residents not to allow Fenty to make decisions without their input.

"The community in this ward has been neglected and disrespected and, as a result, there's a lot of skepticism and distrust of government in general," Barry said. "The mayor has to go over and beyond just talking about his intentions. Those other things are wonderful, but where's the beef?"

As mayor, Fenty has been moving forward with an ambitious agenda, including taking over the D.C. public schools and remaking the police department. But he said a city cannot thrive unless all residents feel they are being treated equitably.
"The people of Ward 8 deserve excellent services from the government, as I feel all seven other wards do," Fenty said. "If just one area is getting the focus, that's not a great city."

Fenty aides point out that the mayor and D.C. Council recently agreed to invest $79 million to help prop up financially troubled Greater Southeast Community Hospital in Ward 8, the only hospital east of the river. And Neil O. Albert, deputy mayor for economic development, said that 20 projects are underway in the ward.

The ward's first grocery store, a Giant, will open next month, and 1,100 housing units are under construction, Albert said. The city also is trying to persuade Metro to move its headquarters from downtown to a proposed building atop the Anacostia Station, he added.

Those projects, however, were started under the Williams administration, and they have done little to pacify ward leaders. To them, Poplar Point has become the gold standard, the only project with the scope to make the ward a regionwide attraction.

"There's not a lot of major projects taking place east of river, so this becomes a one-size-fits-all dream for many of the people," said Eugene Kinlow, a Ward 8 resident who works for D.C. Vote and whose wife, Tonya, was recently hired by Fenty to be the school system's first ombudsman.

Fenty said he wants to find the best proposal possible for Poplar Point, adding that competition will breed creativity and give the city a better bargaining hand. Seven companies responded to the mayor's call for proposals by Friday's deadline; only two included a stadium. D.C. United did not enter the contest.

To many ward leaders, Fenty's decision to seek other proposals renewed their skepticism about whether the mayor values their views. Fenty has had difficulty escaping complaints in the ward that he has failed to appoint anyone who lives east of the Anacostia among his top Cabinet advisers, a criticism that also dogged Williams.

Rumors circulated in the ward that Fenty already had a favored developer in mind for Poplar Point when he opened the competitive bidding process.

"Who is better than this community to decide what land on this side of the river should be used for? We are not an ignorant people," former D.C. Council member Arrington Dixon said during a recent discussion of Poplar Point at an Anacostia Coordinating Council meeting. "I'm troubled. What's going on here?"

Fenty aides dismiss the suggestion that the competition is rigged. Administration officials contend that most of the opposition to Fenty is limited to Barry allies eager to ensure that Fenty does not overshadow the council member, who faces a reelection campaign next year. Some residents agree with the mayor.

"A lot of people I talk to on a regular basis don't agree with the councilman. They tend to agree with the approach of the competitive bid process," said Dameon Proctor, 30, an information technology consultant who bought a house in the ward two years ago. "As long as the mayor pays just as much attention to Ward 8 as he does to every ward, he'll win our confidence."

Charles E. Wilson, 31, who also bought his home two years ago, said Fenty will prove justified as long as he selects a development that succeeds in providing services to residents.
"Whatever is built there, we'll have to live with it for the next 30 years," said Wilson, founder of the Historic Anacostia Block Association, a civic group. "It's important to get it right."

But to Jackie Ward, the neighborhood leader, Fenty has not lived up to the promises implicit with his appearances. As an example, she pointed to Fenty's Cabinet field trip to the Parkway Overlook Apartments during the first week of his administration.

Since the visit, the complex has lost its federal low-income housing subsidy, forcing the owner to default. The D.C. Housing Finance Agency foreclosed on the property in the spring, and the 256 families who lived there are being relocated, said agency director Harry Sewell.

Patrice Taylor, who has lived at the complex with her two children since early last year, said she has yet to find a new home. "If I can find a better life, that's good," she said. "But they're not doing a good job helping people move out."

Albert said his office has worked hard to ensure that residents have a smooth transition. The city plans to reopen the building after finding a new owner, he said, adding that some of the units will be reserved for affordable housing.

But Ward said she is disappointed with the mayor's performance.

"That is not the kind of impact I was looking for," she said.

11/3/07: The Washington Post - Seven Developers Submit Plans for Poplar Point

Two Proposals Include a Soccer Stadium; D.C. United Did Not Participate In Competition

Talks between the city and D.C. United principal owner Victor B. MacFarlane over building a stadium fell through last summer.
Talks between the city and D.C. United principal owner Victor B. MacFarlane over building a stadium fell through last summer. (By Joel Richardson -- The Washington Post)

By David Nakamura
Washington Post Staff Writer

Saturday, November 3, 2007; Page B05

The D.C. government has received seven proposals from companies seeking to develop a 110-acre parcel along the Anacostia River, but none is from D.C. United, which has lobbied to build a stadium on the site.

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) had set yesterday as the deadline for a formal competition for the right to develop the swath of barren parkland in Southeast Washington known as Poplar Point. The seven firms proposed a mix of housing, retail, offices and a hotel, along with the 70-acre park mandated by the federal government, a D.C. government official said.

Two of the firms proposed including a soccer stadium; both made the facility optional, said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the selection process is ongoing. The official declined to identify which firms included a stadium in their proposals.

Several of the companies have strong local ties.

Archstone Smith, which is teaming with Madison Marquette, is a partner on redeveloping the old convention center site in downtown Washington. Clark Realty Capital, whose construction arm is building the Nationals' new baseball stadium, is based in Bethesda and has done projects in Fairfax County. Forest City Enterprises recently launched work on the Yards, one of the largest developments underway along the west side of the Anacostia River. And Mid-City Urban, partnering with General Growth and Doracon, is involved with developing the Capper/Carrollsburg mixed affordable housing complex in the District.

The other entrants are: City Interests, Urban City Ventures and Capital Area Regional Center Jobs Funds.

"We're very pleased with the responses we've gotten so far," said Sean Madigan, spokesman for Neil O. Albert, D.C. deputy mayor for economic development. "We marketed this as one of the last great urban waterfront projects, and the response really validates our vision."

D.C. United principal owner Victor B. MacFarlane had been negotiating informally with the city to build a 27,000-seat stadium, along with a mix of housing, offices and shops.

But Fenty pulled out of the talks in the summer and launched the competitive bidding process. Administration officials have called MacFarlane's plan too costly for the city, which was asked to pay for infrastructure.

MacFarlane has threatened to move the team to the suburbs if he fails to find a site for a stadium in the District.

Madigan said the city will ask developers to present their plans to the public after Nov. 26, and Fenty expects to select a developer by the end of December.

10/21/07: The Washington Post - Not United On A Stadium

District officials would be wise to take seriously competition from the state of Maryland in providing D.C. United a suitable site for a new 27,000-seat soccer stadium.

With negotiations between the D.C. government and United at a standstill, Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot proposed last week that the state try to attract the four-time MLS champions.

United's owner, Victor B. MacFarlane, has offered to pay for the new stadium at a cost of between $150 million and $200 million. In return, MacFarlane wants the city to spend $350 million on infrastructure costs, as well as giving him the right to develop 8 million square feet around the stadium's site at Poplar Point -- not that far from the new baseball stadium.

One government source told me he believes the city and United will cut a deal. But suburban venues have become common nesting spots for other MLS teams -- a fact Mayor Adrian M. Fenty should recognize.

United currently plays at aging RFK Stadium -- site of next month's MLS Cup and host to many big-time soccer events during the 33 years Major League Baseball avoided Washington. The team has a strong and diverse following, and the sport continues to grow in popularity.
United's success over the years should spur the mayor to move swiftly. Or else the city could lose the team, as it lost the Redskins slightly more than 10 years ago when the late owner, Jack Kent Cooke, became so frustrated with the D.C. bureaucracy he built a stadium in Landover.

Ten years later we follow behind-the-scenes activity reportedly occuring among city and Redskins intermediaries to bring the team back to D.C. or on the RFK site in a 95,000-seat retractable roof stadium. The Redskins deny such a plan exists and D.C. officials aren't talking much. But who knows what lurks in the mind of Redskins owner Daniel Snyder?

10/21/07: The Washington Post - Residents Urge Fenty To Build Soccer Stadium At Poplar Point

Those interested in developing Poplar Point in Southeast Washington must submit proposals to the mayor by Nov. 2.
Those interested in developing Poplar Point in Southeast Washington must submit proposals to the mayor by Nov. 2. (By Alexandra Garcia --

By David Nakamura
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, October 21, 2007; Page C06

District residents who live east of the Anacostia River demanded yesterday that Mayor Adrian M. Fenty support D.C. United's plan to build a soccer stadium in their community, saying the project would stimulate economic growth in a neglected part of the city.

At a public hearing held by D.C. Council members at Thurgood Marshall Academy charter school, residents, one after another, testified in favor of United's proposal to build a 27,000-seat stadium and mixed-use development at Poplar Point, a 110-acre strip of parkland along the river in Ward 8.

"Our people are crying for support, asking for help. United has come in and helped our youth. Where is the recognition for that?" asked Dorothy Douglas, an advisory neighborhood commissioner who grew up near the proposed site. "This is an opportunity for the mayor to step up to the plate. Mayor Adrian Fenty, you have to look at the future, the future of young kids and senior citizens and Ward 8. They deserve this."

The show of support -- roughly 80 people attended the hearing, most in favor of the stadium -- ramped up pressure on the mayor. Fenty (D) had been informally negotiating with United principal partner Victor B. MacFarlane for months before breaking off talks during the summer and opening a competitive bidding process to solicit other proposals.

United officials, in return, threatened to move to Virginia or Maryland. Last week, Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot (D) publicly urged state officials to pursue the franchise.

James Bunn, executive director of the Ward 8 Business Council, noted the potential tax revenue generated by a stadium and pleaded, "We should do everything we can to ensure we do not lose this team to the state of Maryland."

Fenty did not attend the hearing, organized by Kwame R. Brown (D-At Large), chairman of the council's Committee on Economic Development. Valerie Santos Young, chief operating officer for the mayor's economic development office, tried to alleviate residents' concerns by emphasizing that the administration remains open to a stadium.

"Poplar Point might be an excellent place for a stadium," she said. "But, again, we want to make sure that we examine all the options, capture all the great ideas that are out there, before committing to anything."

The Poplar Point site, across the Anacostia from the Nationals' new baseball stadium, is now owned by the federal government but is being transferred to District control. Under the competitive process designed by Fenty, developers interested in the site must submit proposals to the mayor's office by Nov. 2.

Although the administration hopes to select a "master developer" by January, officials said the city can select a developer whether or not the developer participates in the formal process.

A 37-page document, "Request for Expressions of Interest," lays out basic qualifications each development team must meet, such as showing that it has completed successful waterfront projects similar in scope.

But the document is vague about what types of development the city is seeking.

The document stipulates only that 70 acres must be reserved for a park -- a requirement established by the federal government -- and that small, local businesses must receive 35 percent of contracting dollars. Fenty also has said 30 percent of any new housing must be affordable for lower-income residents.

City planning officials said they were deliberately vague to encourage creative, "outside-the-box" thinking. But residents said yesterday that Fenty has ignored years of planning undertaken by his predecessor, former mayor Anthony A. Williams (D).

In 2003, Williams created the Anacostia Waterfront Corp., a quasi-independent government agency that held dozens of community meetings and established a framework plan that included a stadium, up to 900,000 square feet of retail space, 800 hotel rooms and 3,000 housing units, as well as the 70-acre park.

But Fenty disbanded the agency and took control of the Poplar Point planning, a point of contention for some residents.

"D.C. United has been in the community for quite a while now working with the community," said Sandra Seegars, an advisory neighborhood commissioner in Ward 8. "The new mayor comes in and takes us back to step one. We don't need to start over again."

Under MacFarlane's plan, total development would reach 8.5 million square feet -- twice the amount of space envisioned by the Anacostia Waterfront Corp. MacFarlane offered to pay for the stadium, expected to cost from $150 million to $200 million, if the city would contribute $350 million in infrastructure for the development project.

Council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8), who supports MacFarlane, told the audience yesterday that Fenty and his aides "are nice people, but they don't know what they're doing."

Percy Battle, who has lived in Ward 8 more than 70 years, said he believes a stadium would be a catalyst for the kind of additional development his community desperately needs.

"While much of the District has experienced unprecedented economic development, Anacostia has been left in the dust," Battle said. "Over the years, we have lost much in the way of everyday services: restaurants, grocery stores, movie theaters, hardware stores -- the list goes on and on."

10/17/07: The Washington Post - Kicked to the Curb: Soccer Stadium Blues

Raw Fisher
Victor MacFarlane makes no secret of his dismay. The wealthy developer who bought the D.C. United soccer team and devoted a couple of years of his life to building a soccer stadium and residential-retail development in Southeast Washington feels double-crossed.

After all, it was the D.C. government that came to him a few years ago and asked him to plan and build a soccer stadium at Poplar Point, the picturesque spot where the Anacostia River and Washington Channel come together. But that was a different administration, a mayor--Tony Williams--who loved the big deal, the dramatic gesture, who fancied himself a master builder. Now, there's a new guy in charge, and Adrian Fenty came to office as the dynamo who focuses on the little stuff, the neighborhood concerns. Fenty was the guy who opposed the city's new baseball stadium every step of the way.

So while it came as a big surprise to MacFarlane when Fenty pulled the plug on the cozy sole-source deal that the developer had been talking about with the Williams staff, it was actually entirely in keeping with Fenty's approach to governing. Under tremendous pressure from neighborhood groups to pull back on the practice of making sweetheart deals with developers, Fenty has opened the Poplar Point development process to any and all, and the District is now fielding proposals from various parties.

MacFarlane says D.C. United won't be one of those parties. The city's new concept of the size and scope of the development precludes the deal that MacFarlane spent years working out, and the developer says he's out. Except that maybe he's in: Moments after telling a meeting of Washington Post editors and reporters that he won't participate in the mayor's competition to get the development rights for Poplar Point, MacFarlane says that he may well team up with another developer to put in a proposal.

That's not the only contradiction in MacFarlane's current position. He is appalled and frustrated by the Fenty administration's actions, yet he still says he wants to and can work with the mayor's people to get a stadium done. MacFarlane has hired a consultant to identify suburban sites for a soccer field--and Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot wants the state to make a good offer--yet MacFarlane says he is resolutely an urban developer and he above all wants to keep the team in the District.

"Our name is D.C. United," says team president Kevin Payne.

On one hand, the MacFarlane team says that they've looked at every possible stadium site in the District and have concluded, as Major League Baseball did, that they are all severely flawed. On the other hand, MacFarlane says he's open to building a soccer stadium on the grounds of the RFK Stadium complex--even if Redskins owner Dan Snyder decides to build a new football stadium at the same place. "There's enough land there that both stadiums could be built," MacFarlane says, and he's obviously looked into that possibility.

(Amazingly, the D.C. Armory site adjacent to RFK is considered off-limits for new construction because the Armory, a vile pit of a building that begs to be blown to smithereens, is landmarked as a historic structure--yet another example of the city's willy-nilly preservation mania.)

The developer's frustration is understandable. He came into the city, bought a team that doesn't make money, and volunteered to pay for a stadium--putting him in the category of sports owner as good citizen, like Abe Pollin, rather than sports owner as hard-charging dealmaker, like Major League Baseball. For his troubles, MacFarlane gets a boatload of uncertainty and a hobbled relationship with the mayor.

But from Fenty's perspective, there are two issues at work that trump the desire for a permanent home for the soccer team: 1) The mayor wants to show his supporters among the various neighborhood groups around town that he is operating above board and is opening development opportunities to all, not just to a hand-picked, sole-sourced rich builder. 2) Fenty is under significant pressure from environmentalists--another important piece of the coalition that elected him--to reserve far more of the Poplar Point site as parkland than MacFarlane or Williams had originally planned for.

"They want less density, less dollars, less profit and more parkland," MacFarlane says of the city's new course on Poplar Point. After he spent years planning for an 80-acre development on a 150-acre site, the builder is now being told to come up with plans for a 40-acre development on a 110-acre site.

So MacFarlane is playing the age-old sports owners' game of threatening to move. Except that he's too honest and straightforward to play the game right. So he's talking to suburban governments that would be thrilled to have United call them home, even as MacFarlane still sings a love song to the big city. And he has forsworn the notion of moving his team to another metro area entirely.

MacFarlane has become a darling of many Ward 8 activists, including council member Marion Barry. But while the developer has done admirable work persuading the community of the value his project could bring to Anacostia, he has neglected to work the council and Fenty administration with the same verve and conciliatory manner. Some D.C. council members still don't see much value in a soccer stadium--even one built largely with private money. One big stadium project is more than enough for them (though we all know how fast they'd come running if Snyder were to announce he's ready to come home to Washington.)

"We're going to get a stadium," Payne says, and of that there can be little doubt. The District would be smart to embrace MacFarlane and assure him that a site for a stadium will be part of the Poplar Point plan--though there's no particular reason the stadium has to be on what is now federal parkland. There's plenty of privately-owned--and city-owned--empty land immediately adjacent to the park.

Despite MacFarlane's bluster, he's a dealer, and when the time comes for him to work together with whatever other developers win the right to take on the Poplar Point project, MacFarlane will be ready to do business. What you're hearing from him now is an effort to hold onto as much of the overall project as he can keep for himself. But just as he is working nicely with other developers on his projects near the baseball stadium, he'll do the same for his soccer field. The rest is just tactics.
By Marc Fisher | October 17, 2007; 7:40 AM ET

10/17/07: The Washington Post - Md. Comes Courting in D.C. United's Stadium Search

State Comptroller Meets With Team Executives After Their Talks With Fenty Stall

Comptroller Peter Franchot has asked the Maryland Stadium Authority to meet with United officials.

Comptroller Peter Franchot has asked the Maryland Stadium Authority to meet with United officials. (Kevin Clark - Twp)

By David Nakamura
Washington Post Staff Writer

Wednesday, October 17, 2007; Page B01

A leading Maryland official began a public push yesterday to lure D.C. United, calling on the state to find a site for a new soccer stadium. The announcement prompted District government leaders to say they will fight to keep the team in the city.

In a letter to Maryland Stadium Authority Chairman Frederick W. Puddester, Comptroller Peter Franchot said United's negotiations with D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) to build a 27,000-seat stadium in the city have stalled.

"I would strongly urge the Maryland Stadium Authority to meet with representatives from the United to learn more about its proposal and explore potential opportunities to bring this great franchise to the State of Maryland," Franchot wrote.

He said a stadium "would attract fans and tourists from throughout the region. . . . The enormous tax revenues generated on game nights alone would provide an enormous benefit."

The letter comes less than a week after United principal partner Victor B. MacFarlane said he has hired consultants to examine potential stadium sites in Maryland and Virginia. Franchot met with MacFarlane and United President Kevin Payne yesterday afternoon to reiterate his interest.

But several D.C. Council members, including Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D), also met with United officials yesterday and pledged to work with the franchise to find a new home in the District.

"That puts us all on notice that they are seriously looking," Gray said of Franchot's letter. "We had to know that was going to happen with the situation they are in."

United officials had been informally negotiating for months with the Fenty administration to build a stadium and mixed-use development at Poplar Point, a 110-acre strip of parkland along the Anacostia River. But the mayor broke off talks during the summer and opened a competitive bidding process to solicit other proposals for the site.

MacFarlane, who bought the team with a partner in January, said last week that it is increasingly unlikely that he will be able to enter the competition because United cannot meet the economic parameters set by the city.

Julie Chase, MacFarlane's spokeswoman, played down the impact of Franchot's letter.

"We're happy to have the support," she said. "But we're a ways down the road" from a plan to move.

Still, Franchot's interest privately rekindled talk among some Maryland officials of United's interest four years ago in two locations in College Park.

Puddester, who has been in his post at the Maryland Stadium Authority for 2 1/2 months, said yesterday that he has not spoken with United since the spring. But Puddester said he has been in touch with the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, which he said has talked more recently with the team.

Fenty administration officials said they remain open to working with United to find a suitable new home in the city. The team plays at 46-year-old RFK Stadium.

Under his initial proposal, MacFarlane offered to pay for the stadium, estimated to cost between $150 million and $200 million, if the city allowed him to develop 8 million square feet at Poplar Point. MacFarlane also has asked the city to contribute $350 million in infrastructure for the overall development project.

But under the terms of the competitive bidding process established by Fenty, developers have been asked to submit proposals that limit development to about 4 million square feet. Bids are due Nov. 2.

"DC United has told us they would explore their options both inside and outside the District and they've also told us they are still working with a developer to possibly submit a proposal for Poplar Point," Neil O. Albert, deputy mayor for economic development, said in a statement.

Council members Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), who is chairman of the Committee on Finance and Revenue, and Marion Barry (D-Ward 8), who represents the area where Poplar Point is located, said yesterday that they support MacFarlane.

"I don't blame Maryland for trying to get" United, Barry said. "They've got more sense than the Fenty administration does."

Staff writer Steven Goff contributed to this report.