Thursday, February 14, 2008

2/14/08: The Washington Business Journal - Clark Realty Capital Wins; Soccer Stadium Still In Play

Clarke Realty's Proposal For The Poplar Point Development

By. Jonathan O'Connell Staff Reporter

D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty has picked Clark Realty Capital LLC to develop Poplar Point, a 40-acre plot of waterfront property on the Anacostia River.

At the Thursday announcement, held atop the parking garage of the Anacostia Metro station, Fenty said Clark's proposal "was the most superior" and that it would bring amenities east of the river "that residents of this area have desired and wanted for a long time."

A soccer stadium seems likely to be included in the deal.

D.C. asked the final three teams, Clark, Forest City and Archstone Smith-Madison Marquette to work options for a soccer stadium into their proposals and Fenty and Victor MacFarlane, owner of D.C. United, are negotiating a subsidy package to include a soccer stadium, plans Fenty shared with the D.C. Council late Wednesday.

But the mayor refuted press reports that stated the city planned to offer varying subsidies of between $150 million and $200 million. Fenty acknowledged that a stadium would require an agreement on a public subsidy "but we don't have it yet." Neil Albert, deputy mayor for economic development, estimated the cost of a 27,000-seat soccer stadium at between $200 million and $300 million and said MacFarlane had offered to pay a "significant portion" of that.

As a councilman, Fenty opposed $611 million in public financing for the Washington Nationals' stadium and backed out of direct negotiations with D.C. United for a stadium last summer. But Fenty criticized suggestions that the current negotiations represented an about-face from his votes, saying a subsidy for a United stadium would not resemble the "one-sided deal" for the baseball stadium.

Councilmembers Marion Barry, D-Ward 8, and Yvette Alexander, D-Ward 7, were on hand to applaud the announcement.

"I want to thank the mayor for being committed to the concept of a stadium," said Barry, a stadium supporter. He said he was sure there was enough votes on the council to pass a stadium proposal

Whether or not it includes a stadium, Clark has proposed a $236 million public subsidy for infrastructure for the $2.5 billion project. The Arlington-based arm of Clark Enterprises proposed building 1.5 million square feet of offices, 3,200 residential units, 405,000 square feet of retail and 224,000 square feet of hotels. Arlington-based Clark also planned an international environmental facility as a center for sustainable energy education and industry, as well as a pre-K through 12th grade school in partnership with KIPP, the network of charter schools that already serves hundreds of Ward 8 children.

All of the new development would surround 70 acres of park space.

Seven teams initially responded to the city's solicitation for offers, and three were quickly eliminated before the remaining four presented their ideas to the community in December. In the meantime, MacFarlane entered discussions with Maryland officials about the possibility of building a stadium in Prince George's County for D.C. United.

The federal government still controls the land, and D.C. estimates that it will take 12 to 18 months to transfer National Park Service facilities on Poplar Point to another location. The U.S. Secretary of the Interior will then have to certify plans for the site before it is transferred to the city.

Construction is not likely to begin until 2010 or 2011.

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