That didn’t take long: The D.C. council has a new plan for acquiring land for a D.C. United stadium, as promised by councilmember/mayor-elect Muriel Bowser just last week, and it’s a doozy: Instead of trading the city-owned Reeves Center office building for stadium land, the District will just up and take it by eminent domain:
The bill keeps much of a complex proposal to build a $300 million stadium on Buzzard Point in Southwest by Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D), but it removes a land swap with D.C. developer Akridge in which the District would have received cash and Buzzard Point land in exchange for the Reeves site.
With the changes, the use of eminent domain, which until now has been considered a Plan B option in stadium negotiations, becomes a very real possibility. After Mayor-elect Muriel E. Bowser is inaugurated in January, she could use eminent domain to take Akridge’s land on Buzzard Point at a price negotiated in court.
That’s much simpler, avoiding concerns that the District would be getting a lousy deal on the land swap, and that tearing down the Reeves Center would displace city jobs, and … it feels like something’s missing here. Let’s see, instead of the land swap, the city takes the land by eminent domain, and pays Akridge what a court determines (which could actually end up being more than the land owner agreed to in the land swap) — oh, hey, yeah, where does the money come from to pay Akridge now?
D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) said he expected both [committees] to hold votes Tuesday, but there are questions about how to pay for the stadium if the council agrees to retain the Reeves Center.
Um, yeah! Though at least if it keeps the Reeves Center, D.C. doesn’t have to find money to build a replacement for the Reeves Center, which it hadn’t yet begun to work on.
In terms of overall subsidies, then, this deal is pretty much exactly like the old one: D.C. would still be providing about $180 million in cash and tax breaks, just a chunk of the cash value will now come from “to be determined” instead of from handing over the Reeves Center. But it’s the new mayor’s $180 million subsidy plan now, instead of the old mayor’s, and in D.C., that’s often what makes the difference.