Archive for the ‘development’ Tag

Water Draws A Crowd

Some people know how tho throw an event and draw a crowd. The Potomac Yards folks did that yesterday. Splash Yards, with a water slide, inflatable balls to roll inside and a surf board to ride the wave, drew hundreds into a parking lot. With drinks and tubs for soaking or getting water to toss on people, the event was a great success.

This was a great way to bring men and women in their 20s and 3os into the neighborhood to see the environment and maybe become interested in renting or buying a condo or apartment.

The event started at 2 and the line was around the block. Fortunately, if you didn’t want to drink, you could walk right in and not wait long in the line. Like an amusement park, there were lines to get on any of the rides. Still, we rode the plastic slide several times and the quick steep drop made it a blast.



The surf board proved a bit of a challenge but was good fun.


The organizers were less successful with the inflatable balls; or what someone on line called, hamster balls. The line hardly moved and after 45 minutes of waiting we gave up on it. This was a big disappointment!




DC Preservation League Video

Douglas Development has owned the Uline Arena/Washington Coliseum for years, using it as a parking lot until the time for development was right. With the NOMA corridor development springing up all around the former arena on M St and First St, NE, the time appears to be good now.

The company submitted a proposal for the arena. I’ve noticed the arena while riding the Metro Red line for years. My friend and I decided to write a book about Washington, DC Professional Basketball that includes the 1940s, when the Washington Capitols played at Uline and the 1969-1970 season when the Washington Capitols played in the ABA at the Washington Coliseum.

The Bullets, the Wizards, and Washington, DC, Basketball flyer_rev

This morning Raphael Mazzone and I discussed the basketball and social and cultural history of the building for the crew that are creating the video for the DC Preservation League. I’m standing in front of the old concession stand.

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This was the press box.

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Some of the remaining seating.

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Tennis and Economic Development

How many promises are made about building an area when a new Major League Baseball team, a National Football League team or a National Basketball Association team wants the city to put in a ton of money for a new stadium or arena? Tons.

Authors like Andrew Zimbalast  conclude that sports teams and facilities are not a source of local economic growth and employment; second, the magnitude of the net subsidy exceeds the financial benefit of a new stadium to a team.

The Brookings Institution say the promises are usually not met.

Washington, DC tried this with the Nationals Park as a part of the office buildings and condominiums that sprang up all across the Navy Yard and parts of southeast.

Now the southwest waterfront is the next development area.

The city poured $200 million for infrastructure improvements and a developer began the process of building condominiums. The new tennis stadium is one of the drawing cards to this part of the city.

The team says on its website that the new location will enhance the viewing experience for fans who already consider the Kastles’ home one of the most intimate, exciting tennis venues in the country.

The developers PN Hoffman and Madison Marquette hope and think this 3,000-seat tennis stadium will jump-start a nearly $2 billion, 10-year redevelopment project. The stadium will serve to lure area residents to a waterfront development of hotels, restaurants, shops, a marina with 600 new boat slips and dockside apartments.

City Planning

nw_aerial_11x17-2Here’s a cautionary tale for Minneapolis, Oakland, San Francisco, Miami and all the other cities that believe that building a ball park will create a burgeoning, bustling new area on the urban landscape.

True, the recession does not help spur any development.

True, it takes time to allow for an area to grow.

However, the growth and development could have happened in many other parts of Washington, DC. The drive was to change the southeast Navy Yard area from a nightclub district to a family neighborhood and the stadium served as the leverage to make that happen.

Sports Blog

Washington Post columnist Marc Fisher’s take on Capital Sporting Grounds

D.C. Residents: Please Build A Stadium In My Neighborhood

I think we can all agree we are not likely to see that headline in The Washington Post anytime soon, but I put it out here today because, hard as it may be to believe, there was once a time when D.C. neighborhoods begged the pols to put a stadium where they live.

Today, you can pretty well bet your house that any location that a sports franchise might select as its future home will react as if it has been chosen as a site for chemical weapons testing. But in the 1920s, citizens associations in places such as Congress Heights, Brookland and Anacostia lobbied to become the home of a stadium to be built for the annual Army-Navy game. (The Washington Redskins didn’t exist yet; they wouldn’t move here from Boston until the 1930s.)

This and a number of other illuminating bits are contained in a new book tracing some of the history of stadium politics in Washington, “Capital Sporting Grounds,” by Brett Abrams, an archivist at the National Archives.

The book, inspired by the wild political brouhaha earlier this decade over whether to build a publicly-financed stadium for the Washington-bound Montreal Expos, demonstrates that constructing playing fields for professional sports teams has always been a controversial pursuit. As far back as 1890, the first Washington Nationals baseball franchise, which of course was a cellar-dwelling team that did vastly better at the turnstiles than on the field, ran into opposition when it tore down hundreds of oak trees to erect a 4,000-seat ballpark in Howardtown (named for the university) at 7th and W streets NW.

Interestingly, in those early decades of pro sports, the city’s streetcar companies actually paid teams an annual fee in return for the additional business that sports events generated for the transit services.

The push-pull between sports franchise owners and local government has a long heritage. Washington lost the Nationals in 1900, when they moved to Boston in part because the commissioners who managed the District for Congress were threatening to extend Sixth Street north smack through the team’s stadium, Nationals Park. Have a look at your D.C. map and you’ll see that 109 years later, the city still hasn’t gotten around to building that street.

Instead, the site was later used for Griffith Stadium, where the baseball Senators and football Redskins played for many years, despite decades of protests from fans, team owners and politicians that the place was the worst facility in either sport. (The Senators played for a couple of years at American League Park at 14th and H streets NE in Trinidad.)

As eager as city officials are today to blast RFK Stadium to smithereens, it’s worth noting that it took half a century to get it built. Starting in 1910–when the federal Commission of Fine Arts, in a shocking, rare ‘Yes’ vote, approved plans to build a football stadium either on the White House Ellipse or at some other spot in East Potomac Park–and continuing right up to 1960–when that same commission reverted to form and rejected plans for D.C. Stadium (RFK’s original name) because it would sit on a straight line from the U.S. Capitol and because the stadium’s proposed undulating roofline looked way too “rollercoaster” and “whoopsie-doodle”–the drive to build a stadium seemed eternally star-crossed. The stadium only got built because Congress and the city’s Armory Board, eager to save the District’s baseball and football teams, overruled the Fine Arts commission. (Hard as it may be to believe, the Redskins never sold out 34,000-seat Griffith Stadium in the 1950s.)

Along the way, all manner of proposals died at the hands of Congress or its appointed arbiters of architectural taste. As far back as 1936, George P. Marshall, the legendary owner of the Redskins, proposed a 70,000-seat domed stadium with a retractable glass roof. Marshall and architect Jules DeSibour collaborated on a patent for the retractable roof; the stadium would be equipped with heat and air-conditioning. Only problem: No one could figure out how to keep a grass field alive in a domed building. The DistrictDome was never built, in part because World War II intervened.

After the war, proposals for a 100,000-seat or even a 200,000-seat football stadium at the East Capitol Street site where RFK stands today were revived, but the debate in Congress stalled when some members insisted it would be irresponsible to spend big money on a sports stadium before the city’s dangerous and decrepit slums were cleared–an argument that in only slightly different form dominated the debate over construction of the latest Nationals Park.

At one point in the late 1950s, Marshall wanted to build a football stadium at New York and South Dakota avenues NE, near the Maryland border. In that pre-Metro era, he worried that the RFK site would be a traffic nightmare. Clark Griffith, the Senators owner, meanwhile, fretted that the stadium proposed for the Capitol Street site was shaped for football and would be unsuitable for baseball.

Finally, as Prince George’s and Maryland taxpayers consider the wisdom of the latest proposal to build a stadium for the D.C. United soccer team, it’s instructive to recall, as Abrams does in the book, that when then-Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke announced in 1993 that he would build his own stadium in Laurel, he set up an office in the county and referred to the team strictly as “The Redskins”–no Washington, a gracious nod to his new hosts in Maryland.

Strange, somehow the team seems to have forgotten that bit.

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Soccer Stadium

DC United has a new home. The DC area gets a new soccer stadium but like the Redskins, the place is located in Prince Georges County.

The politicians and team owner go through the usual argument for the stadium, including job creation and economic development. However, as Post columnist Marc Fisher indicates, Johnson said that the team and stadium offers civic boosterism to the County.

The County Executive is being realistic and also using a justification that stadium supporters in DC have used in the past. Capital Sporting Grounds discusses how politicians wanted stadiums in DC to memorialize former Presidents and war veterans, to stage the Olympics, or to make Washington into a big time city.

There is certainly nothing wrong with wanting to enhance the reputation of your city!

DC Development Collapses: Stimulus Project

The Poplar Point Development Project worth $2.5 billion dollars is shelved. Clark Construction pulled out of the project because of the economic circumstances that the US is in.

This project had designs to reinvigorate an area of DC that has suffered for years without businesses, restaurants, and other parts of what most Americans consider an appropriate life style.

The project also could have included a new stadium for one of the city’s successful sports franchises, the DC United Soccer team. The development would complement the new Nationals Stadium (professional baseball) and the new stores and businesses planned for that side of the River.

Howe about including this as part of the stimulus program–new jobs during construction and a range of housing and businesses in a part of the city that desperately needs both.

Empty Schools

There are many empty school buildings in Washington, DC as there are in urban areas across the nation. Most have not received the proper maintenance and updating over the last seventy-five to hundred years so they need lots of work.

Last year, the DC School system put several buildings on the block for development. In the Shaw area in Ward 5, we had three schools available for re-development. The neighborhood association met and submitted its list of top uses for these buildings. Then we heard nothing.

Meanwhile, the Post editorial board is noting that the school buildings are up again. They are advocating for their use as charter schools.  Interestingly, there were only a few people in the association interested in using these abandoned buildings for that use. Most of us wanted a recreation center, stores or restaurants, even housing of various income levels. Since the economic downtown, it is very unlikely that any developer can be found to convert these buildings for any of the uses that the neighborhood wants.

The City Council members wrote off the interests that the neighborhood submitted. They are waiting for responses to the RFP request for proposals and then want the chosen developers to go out to the neighborhood associations and solicitour opinions. Ie the developer comes to us and tells us what they are going to do with the building.