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Old December 1st, 2005, 12:56 AM   #81
NovaWolverine
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As hard as Williams has been pushing this, I don't think there's anyway he leaves without sealing this deal somehow. The leasing is not a problem, we can reach a deal there, really it's the budget, and coming to a final proposal, which they already have concised, supposedly most of it is dealt with anyway and in the next week or two they're gonna unveil the official plans and all that.
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Old December 2nd, 2005, 06:02 PM   #82
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http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...120100761.html

"Two things in my opinion can save this deal," Graham said. "One is a major financial concession from baseball to pay for cost overruns. The second is to relocate the deal to the RFK site."


The problem is it's out of Mayor Williams hands. It's purely the city council and MLB. And it's not a good sign that they're talking about the RFK site again.
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Old December 2nd, 2005, 09:57 PM   #83
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does anyone have any renderings of the new condos going up in College Park?
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Old December 3rd, 2005, 11:36 PM   #84
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Tentative stadium deal in Washington
By ASHTON WILLIAMS, Associated Press Writer
December 3, 2005


WASHINGTON (AP) -- Major League Baseball is close to a tentative agreement with the city that would clear the way for a new stadium for the Washington Nationals and the long-awaited sale of the team.

D.C. Council Chair Linda W. Cropp said Saturday on WRC-TV that a deal had been reached with baseball agreeing to contribute $20 million to a contingency fund and guarantee rent payments.

However, a spokesman for Mayor Anthony A. Williams said talks between city officials and baseball are still being held this weekend in Washington.

"We're just not there yet. There are some people who feel a little more confident in saying," spokesman Vince Morris said. "I'd rather have it hand before I claim that we've got a deal."

Baseball has said it will not sell the Nationals until there is a lease agreement. Eight bidders are ready to pay $450 million for the team, which is owned by the other 29 major league teams.

If approved, the $20 million is expected to go toward covering expected cost overruns on the $535 million state-of-the-art ballpark project south of the Capitol. Baseball would agree to a letter of credit to pay the team's rent in case of a terrorist attack or players' strike.

The Council must still approve the lease before any work can begin on the stadium.

"We think we'll be in a spot within a week or so, maybe two weeks tops, where the Council will have had time to look at it and approve it," Morris said. "Our thought is shortly after that we'll be able to pull the trigger and start building the new stadium, which is what everybody's been hoping we'd do all along."

Cropp said the vote could come Dec. 20 and the Council should have the lease next week.

"The second we've got a deal that we feel is locked in place, we're absolutely going to go forward with it," Morris said.

http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/news?slu...v=ap&type=lgns
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Old December 4th, 2005, 01:20 AM   #85
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It's going to happen. But too close for me. If I had felt that moving of the site was a real possibility I wouldn't have felt confident either. I personally don't know why it's so difficult for the council to come through. I mean, I understand the other factors, but if we want a stadium than we need to get a deal done, if we wanted to deal with other problems of the city, that's fine too, but we shouldn't make ourselves look bad for all this red tape.
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Old December 7th, 2005, 02:51 AM   #86
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D.C. Baseball Stadium Cost Could Exceed $700 Million

By David Nakamura
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 6, 2005; A01

Top District officials discussed new estimates for a baseball stadium project along the Anacostia River in Southeast Washington yesterday and determined that costs could reach more than $700 million, which is more than $100 million beyond the previous forecast of the city's chief financial officer.

Officials stressed that the new estimates are preliminary and take into account all potential costs, including $41 million for underground parking, $20 million to upgrade the Navy Yard Metro station and $12 million to rebuild nearby roads. They added that some of the work might not have to be paid for by the city or done at all.

The new cost figures were discussed briefly in a meeting with Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D), Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi, D.C. Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) and others yesterday afternoon. Accounts of the meeting varied.

A source with knowledge of the discussions said the estimates reached $714 million. That source, who had seen a document detailing the costs, spoke on condition of anonymity because Gandhi is working on a report of new estimates and the numbers are not final.

Vince Morris, spokesman for Williams, disputed that figure.

"The $700 million doomsday budget is not ours and does not reflect reality," Morris said. "We told the citizens of the District that we'd build a gem of a ballpark on time and on budget, and that's what we intend to do."

Gandhi's previous estimate was $535 million for the stadium project, plus $54 million in financing fees, for a total of $589 million.

Gandhi confirmed that he met with Williams and Evans yesterday but declined to comment on specifics. His office is working on an analysis of how much it would cost to build a stadium at the waterfront location vs. the cost of building it adjacent to Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, which some council members have said would be cheaper.

"I can understand that because of Hurricane Katrina, costs have changed" for construction materials, Gandhi said. "What we're doing now is working at those estimates. We hope that pretty soon we'll have the numbers."

The source said the new estimates from Gandhi's office include $58 million to cover financing fees associated with stadium construction bonds, which the city plans to pay using revenue generated by taxes from Washington Nationals games this past season and interest on the bond money before it is spent next year.

The council approved spending $535 million on the stadium project last year and will not approve any new funds, said Evans, chairman of the council's Finance and Revenue Committee.

"None of these numbers change the 535 million-dollar number," he said. "That's still the number."

But Gandhi's new estimates also include $40 million in contingencies, twice the $20 million extra in contingencies that Major League Baseball recently agreed to contribute to the project during ongoing stadium lease negotiations, the source said.

Council member David A. Catania (I-At Large), who opposes the project, said yesterday that he intends to introduce two stadium-related emergency bills at the council's legislative meeting today, including one that would cap the cost of the project at $535 million.

In recent weeks, Catania and others had calculated that the projected price had reached well over $600 million because city officials removed $55 million of infrastructure costs and $54 million in bond financing fees from the original budget to deal with escalating stadium costs.

Because the city is financing the construction bonds with other revenue, it might have to pay the infrastructure costs with city money in the future, Catania said.

The new project estimates come as the city is close to finalizing a stadium lease with baseball. City officials have said they hope to complete the lease deal and send it to the council by Friday. Council members said last week that baseball's recent concessions show progress.

The lease is critical because until it is completed, city finance officials will not issue construction bonds and Commissioner of Baseball Bud Selig has said he will not sell the Nationals.

Along with the $20 million payment to cover rising construction costs, baseball has agreed to give the District a letter of credit that would guarantee the Nationals' rent payment for one or two seasons in case of a terrorist attack or players' strike.

In return, the city has agreed to give baseball one-third of parking revenue generated by a new stadium on non-game days, city officials said yesterday.

Over the course of the stadium's life, expected to be 30 to 40 years, baseball would get back its $20 million, according to sources familiar with the lease negotiations.

City planners say they anticipate people parking in the stadium year-round because they are working with private developers to create a nearby entertainment district, featuring shops, restaurants, residential units and office space.

The details of the parking revenue split have not been finalized because baseball's negotiators are concerned that the stadium parking lots will not produce as much revenue as anticipated on non-game days, sources with knowledge of the stadium discussion said.

"The problem is, there's uncertainty there," Evans said. "It's possible no one would park in those lots for years. Even then, every one of the buildings [in an entertainment district] would have a parking garage."

Nationals President Tony Tavares and other Major League Baseball officials declined to comment yesterday, citing ongoing negotiations.

Critics who object to the public investment in the project said yesterday that if the District gives parking revenue to baseball, it would negate the impact of the $20 million payment.

Baseball "offers to help with $20 million, but they'll get that back and then some over time," Catania said. "It's outrageous. . . . That's not a true advance of $20 million in a way one would expect a partner to share some of the costs."

Baseball will receive all parking revenue from the 81 games each season, except for tax money that goes to the city. Baseball's negotiators also argued that the stadium agreement signed by baseball officials and Williams last year stipulated that baseball would get parking revenue on non-game days.

Mayoral spokesman Morris characterized the deal as a victory for the District.

"Instead of letting Major League Baseball keep all the money from its parking lot, we've cut a deal where we keep two-thirds" of all parking revenue on non-game days, Morris said. "Even better, Major League Baseball is still going to give us the $20 million upfront."

But council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) said baseball's contribution is "totally illusory. It doesn't deceive any thinking person."

Staff writer Thomas Heath contributed to this report.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company
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Old December 7th, 2005, 02:57 AM   #87
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Mayor Insists Stadium Costs Will Not Rise

By David Nakamura
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 6, 2005; 5:00 PM

D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams said that media reports today that the cost of a baseball stadium complex could reach more than $700 million were misleading, the result of misinformation perpetuated by stadium opponents "who have been against this deal from day one."

"Under no circumstances will this stadium cost $700 million," Williams said at a midday news conference. Yesterday, D.C. Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi acknowledged in a meeting with Williams, D.C. Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) and other city officials that Gandhi's staff has determined that the stadium, along with all ancillary costs, could reach $714 million. Gandhi has stressed that he has not finalized his report, which will be given to the council by Friday.

Williams said that he will spend no more than the $535 million authorized by the D.C. Council last year. Of that, $300 million will go to pay for construction materials and labor to build the ballpark structure, he added.

However, Williams acknowledged that the stadium project budget does not contain money for ancillary costs such as improvements to a nearby Metro station and roads, an underground parking structure, bond financing fees and other potential costs. Estimates for those costs alone add up to more than $180 million.

Those costs have been the cause of much consternation by city officials in recent days. The new estimate being discussed is far more than Gandhi's previous estimate that the stadium project would cost $535 million, plus $54 million more for bond financing fees. The rising costs have concerned the D.C. Council, which could vote on a critical stadium lease agreement between the city and Major League Baseball within two weeks.

The city will not issue construction bonds and baseball officials will not sell the Washington Nationals until the agreement is in place.

Williams and Mark H. Tuohey, chairman of the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission, reiterated today that Gandhi's re-estimate includes costs that they expect to be borne by the federal government and private developers.

"I never believed these costs should be borne completely by the baseball stadium budget," Williams said. "They never have been borne completely by other cities with stadiums."

But several council members said they approved the $535 million budget with the expectation that the figure included money for roads, Metro and bond financing. The sports commission has acknowledged recently that it removed $55 million earmarked for infrastructure to deal with escalating stadium costs. And Gandhi said that $54 million for bond financing will be paid with other revenues outside the stadium budget.

"These other costs are ancillary," Tuohey said. "I have assured the council that I will work with the mayor and the CFO and other federal agencies and private developers to . . . get added money for the important infrastructure needs."

© 2005 The Washington Post Company
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Old December 8th, 2005, 10:05 PM   #88
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Rte. 7 Makeover Part Of Dulles Rail Plan
Metrorail Proposal Cuts Costs but Adds Pedestrian-Friendly Design in Tysons

By Leef Smith
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 8, 2005; Page B08

Leesburg Pike in Tysons Corner is a mishmash of fast-food restaurants, car dealerships and chain stores. Access roads bump up against the main highway, traffic lights are jammed together, and this time of year, cars slow to a crawl.

Now picture an eight-lane, pedestrian-friendly urban boulevard with a Metrorail line overhead.

Planners say they would use the arrival of Metrorail to turn Route 7 in Tysons Corner into a pedestrian-friendly thoroughfare. The proposed Silver Line would occupy the median of Route 7 from Route 123 to the Dulles Toll Road.

Managers of the massive project that would extend Metro through Tysons Corner are envisioning just that and will offer specific plans tonight at a public hearing.

But the unveiling of the changes to Leesburg Pike is muted by the fact that they are part of measures taken to reduce the cost of the proposed 11-mile Metrorail extension from $2.4 billion to $1.8 billion. The price still exceeds by $300 million the $1.5 billion in the project's financing plan.

The proposed improvements to Leesburg Pike (also called Route 7) -- which have long been on the drawing board, but have never been specific until now -- are a byproduct of the cost reductions. The cuts were announced in August, but details will not be made public until the hearing tonight.

Planners cut $200 million by reducing by half the length of a planned Metro tunnel near the intersection of Routes 7 and 123 and increasing the amount of aerial track. The second most significant savings would come by using a more common, less architecturally stylized design for columns supporting the elevated portions of the rail line.

Some Tysons merchants and office-goers already had expressed concern that the columns and elevated tracks would be ugly.

"I want [the line] to look as aesthetically pleasing as possible, and some of that may have to be addressed later on, but right now the important thing is getting rail to service this corridor as soon as we possibly can," said Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Gerald E. Connolly (D).

When complete, the proposed Silver Line would extend 23 miles from East Falls Church to Dulles International Airport.

Phase one of construction, which could get underway as soon as next December and be completed by 2011, would stretch from the East Falls Church station through Tysons Corner to Wiehle Avenue in Reston.

Officials said yesterday that the proposal now includes a plan to shift the rail line from the south side of Route 7 to the road's median, where it would run on elevated tracks from just west of Route 123 to the Dulles Toll Road.

In doing so, officials said, they would eliminate the access service lanes that now stretch along Leesburg Pike, as well as many left-turn lanes, completely transforming the busy roadway.

"We're trying to create a boulevard effect instead of this strip-mall-oriented, used-car-dealer piece of highway," Connolly said. "I think that over time it's going to be a profound change for the Tysons area and a welcome one."

Officials said the changes would be dramatic for those familiar with the road network.

"You'll have to learn to drive all over again in Tysons," said Marcia McAllister, a spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation.

Under the current plan, Metrorail would make four stops in Tysons Corner, starting with Tysons East, at the intersection of Route 123 and Scotts Crossing Road. The station would be on the edge of Tysons Corner, where officials said the line would rise 55 feet above the ground. The next stop would be Tysons Central 123, on the north side of Route 123 between Tysons Galleria and Tysons Corner Center.

The proposed route then dips into a 2,100-foot tunnel. Because the tunnel has been shortened, officials said, tracks would now go over the Gosnell Road intersection rather than under it.

From there the route continues on to Tysons Central 7, on Route 7 midway between Gosnell Road and Route 123, and then to a Tysons West stop at the intersection of Route 7 and Springhill Road.

Officials said that the average height of the elevated track -- from the ground to the base of the rail line -- would be 35.7 feet, with the highest point reaching 64 feet where the Beltway crosses 123.

Exactly who would pay the increased cost is unclear. The financing plan for the first phase assumes that the federal government would pay half, with the state and Fairfax County each paying 25 percent. A special tax on Tysons Corner landowners is expected to generate a maximum of $400 million, leaving Fairfax to raise an additional $50 million toward construction. The state plans to use money collected on the Dulles Toll Road to pay its share. The project still needs approval and a financial commitment from the federal government.
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Old December 8th, 2005, 10:06 PM   #89
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Old December 11th, 2005, 12:54 AM   #90
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Accord Reached On New Stadium
Second Agreement Requires Nationals To Stay for 30 Years

By David Nakamura and Thomas Heath
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, December 10, 2005; Page A01

The District government and Major League Baseball reached a formal agreement on a stadium lease yesterday after three months of negotiations and turned it over to the D.C. Council, which is to take a critical vote in 10 days.

The city and baseball also completed a second agreement that would require the team to play in the District for 30 years. It would allow the team to relocate as many as three regular season home games once every five years to an international venue or another place requested by Major League Baseball.

Under terms of the lease deal, baseball would give the city $20 million for stadium construction and a letter of credit that would cover Washington Nationals rent payments in case of a terrorist attack or players' strike.

The city agreed in return to give the Nationals a third of the parking revenue generated at the stadium on non-game days from the 1,225 spaces required at the site. That would return about $20 million to baseball during the 30-year lease.

"We've negotiated a good deal for the city and persuaded Major League Baseball to concede on many fronts," Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) said in a statement released by his office. "I look forward to a full discussion of the lease during a hearing next week and I urge the Council to approve this lease as quickly as possible the following week."

The lease agreement requires approval from the 13-member council, which has scheduled a vote for Dec. 20. However, council members are concerned about rising costs and said they would reject the deal if baseball did not make a significant financial contribution.

If the council approves the lease agreement, stadium construction could begin in March. The Nationals played their first season at Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium and are scheduled to play there the next two seasons. If construction is completed on time, the stadium will open in March 2008.

"We worked hard to accommodate the areas of pressing concern identified by the city," baseball President Robert A. DuPuy said in a written statement. "We now look forward to a favorable vote by the City Council."

If the council approves the lease agreement, baseball is expected to announce a new owner for the team shortly thereafter. Eight groups have bid on the franchise, for which baseball has said it has set a price of $450 million.

The city has approved a $535 million budget, along with $54 million in bond financing fees, for the publicly funded stadium project along the Anacostia River in Southeast Washington. The bulk of the money would be paid through a gross receipts tax on businesses as well as taxes on utilities and stadium concessions.

Natwar M. Gandhi, the city's chief financial officer, is scheduled to give the council an updated cost study Monday. This week, Gandhi's office told city officials that preliminary estimates reached as high as $714 million for the stadium and related infrastructure.

Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), who has voted against public funding for the project, said he was unimpressed with baseball's promise of $20 million because the city would be paying it back with the non-game-day parking revenue.

Accord Reached On New Stadium
The Nationals would receive all parking revenue on game days if the garage was limited to 1,225 spaces. But if the city built more parking spaces, the team would collect all game-day parking revenue and the city would keep all non-game-day revenue. This provision is designed to allow the Nationals to select whichever option the team thinks will provide more income, but the team must choose before the first season.

"I don't think that's fresh cash," Graham said. "I don't think this works. My vote's not changing."

But Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), a key baseball booster, said the lease represents a fair deal. "It's the best negotiated deal we could get from Major League Baseball," he added.

City financial officials have said they will not issue construction bonds, and Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig has said he will not sell the Nationals, until the lease is approved.

"This grueling process at last has an end in sight," Nationals President Tony Tavares said. "I wouldn't characterize anybody at baseball as being happy right now. I would characterize them as being hopeful that this comes to a positive conclusion on the 20th."

Baseball's letter of credit would come from a bank with a rating of at least AA and cover one season of rent. If the money was used, baseball would replenish the reserve account with another credit letter covering a season's rent.

The team would collect all stadium revenue other than non-game-day parking and advertising collected by the city during the 18 days the city could use the stadium for other events. And the Nationals would control all advertising on and inside the stadium and would receive all income from naming rights if a corporate sponsor paid to put its name on the ballpark.

If the stadium did not open by March 2008, the District would be required to pay penalties that could reach millions of dollars, depending on how much revenue the team lost during the delay.

The Nationals would pay an average of $5.5 million in rent during the 30-year lease and donate 8,000 tickets to city charities each season. In a statement, the city said it would control development rights on land outside the stadium and within the 21-acre footprint of the project. The lease agreement states that the Nationals and the city will "jointly evaluate . . . to attract economically viable commercial activity" south and east of the stadium.

The lease also calls for the team to pay the city $1 for every ticket sold over 2.5 million during the season. The team would not be required to pay rent if the stadium was damaged and home games could not be played, except during strikes, lockouts or other labor disputes between the owners and the Major League Baseball Players Association.

"Nobody won everything, but I think we ended up just fine," said Mark H. Tuohey, chairman of the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission and negotiator of the lease for the city.

Also yesterday, Williams authorized final designs for the new stadium, which features glass, steel and limestone as its primary components and departs sharply from the popular red-brick throwback ballparks. The city plans to make the designs public shortly after the lease is approved.

The council has scheduled a public hearing on the lease for 10 a.m. Tuesday. Those wishing to speak must register by 5 p.m. Monday.
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Old December 11th, 2005, 01:04 AM   #91
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Reimagining a Mall That Has Outgrown Itself
Designers Propose a New Frontier -- East Potomac Park -- for Expansion

By Petula Dvorak
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 9, 2005; Page B01

The architects and designers were giddy with the possibilities: They talked about giant sculptural bridges, soaring waterfront museums, inland canals, water taxis and monuments that would forever change the nation's capital.

"This is something that only happens every century or so. This is really a once-in-lifetime opportunity," said Rick Harlan Schneider, an architect who tipped his head back and imagined what it would be like to help redesign the nation's front yard, the Mall.

With a glut of memorials, monuments and museums waiting to be built, and other champions for other causes in the wings, the question of whether the Mall should be considered "a finished piece of civic art" gained new momentum this week during a meeting at the Corcoran Gallery of Art.

Schneider is one of a growing number of planners whose solution is rethinking the Mall itself, reconfiguring and expanding the space, the way a Senate commission did about 100 years ago when the Lincoln Memorial was built on swampland that became the western axis of one of the nation's premier public spaces.

"Ultimately, the Mall is not a collection of museums and memorials. That's not what the Mall was intended to be. It's a living, lively place, and it can keep changing," said Judy Scott Feldman, chairman of the National Coalition to Save Our Mall, the group that has spent the past two years championing another move as bold as the one involving the Lincoln Memorial.

Feldman's plan to expand the Mall to include East Potomac Park is an attempt to solve the problem of memorial clutter by creating more space that would be considered prime Mall real estate. It would be big enough to include more of the strolling, biking and ballgames that get crowded out by museums while making room for more monuments.

Her group hosted the forum this week that featured the ideas of six architects. They created plans for marinas, water taxis, shopping, restaurants, museums and fantastical bridges. One design would move the Supreme Court to East Potomac Park, creating a triangle, with the Capitol and the White House, to represent the judicial, legislative and executive branches of government.

The mood at the lecture was electric, with architects in black turtlenecks and historians in tailored suits popping from their chairs with ideas. It was supposed to last an hour, but people stayed for more than two, talking long after the gallery staff had stacked the chairs and dimmed the stage lights.

The meeting drew federal planners faced with the quandary daily when they receive proposals for memorials and museums that have been approved by Congress despite less space where they could go.

"The monuments and memorials are going to keep coming. Something's got to happen," said Thomas Luebke, secretary of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, who came to listen but took no official position on the plans.

Representatives from the National Capital Planning Commission also attended, but they are firmly holding to their solution: the "Legacy plan" and the Memorials and Museums Master Plan, which names 100 spaces approved for memorials in pocket parks and on forgotten plots, to democratize and spread monuments. The commission is also working with city officials on turning the South Capitol Street corridor into a Mall-like park next to the proposed baseball stadium.

"We consider the Mall a finished work of civic art," John V. Cogbill III, the National Capital Planning Commission chairman, repeats often at meetings of the commission, where groups constantly clamor for more space.

In most cases, groups sponsoring memorials feel slighted or disrespected when offered a spot that is not on the Mall. That's why Feldman says that the Mall simply needs to grow, to simply make that coveted space a little larger.

But Patricia E. Gallagher, executive director of the commission, said that simply annexing East Potomac Park, a waterfront park with a golf course, children's parks and a steady population of joggers and cyclists, isn't an easy answer. That space is known as "the people's park."

"Taking over the recreational uses would be very, very controversial. That park is treasured for recreational purposes," Gallagher said.

At the Corcoran meeting, one man in the audience chimed in with similar thoughts. "I run that park about once a month. There are bikers; it's a place where people go," he said.

But Feldman and the designers said they want to integrate recreation into their plans. They talked about swimming areas, a national skateboard park, a national putt-putt course, walkways, water canals and bike paths.

For those who think the plan is outrageous and unreasonable, Feldman points to a quote from a 1902 park commission report to the Senate, before the Mall was expanded toward the Lincoln Memorial:

"The demand for new public buildings and memorials has reached an acute stage. There has been hesitation and embarrassment in locating them because of the uncertainty in securing appropriate sites."
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Old December 11th, 2005, 01:05 AM   #92
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I personally don't like this idea that much.
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Old December 11th, 2005, 01:44 AM   #93
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Man! Prices for stadiums are SUPER high! over 700 Million! Wow! How did these prices get so out-of-hand?

BTW, have you guys heard anymore on the new high-rise Condos going up at College Park? And renderings you know of?

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Old December 11th, 2005, 02:03 AM   #94
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The only thing I could find were northgate condos, but I didn't see any renderings.
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Old December 11th, 2005, 02:05 AM   #95
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But it's being done by Monuement Realty and they seem to be pretty decent.
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Old December 11th, 2005, 06:43 AM   #96
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NovaWolverine
I personally don't like this idea that much.
Ditto. I do think East Potomac Park can stand for some improvement, but I don't want to see it urbanized. Whatever happened to the proposal to relocate the Supreme Court to Buzzard's Point?
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Old December 11th, 2005, 07:21 AM   #97
Furiine
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The idea of elevating the Metro rail in between the road is very interesting. If they want to make it "as aesthetically pleasing as possible", embanking the rails with some kind of stylized wall would look nicer than columns sticking up. Maybe some kind of red-brick wall or grassy embankment would make it look less imposing.
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Old December 11th, 2005, 11:44 AM   #98
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Archiconnoisseur
Ditto. I do think East Potomac Park can stand for some improvement, but I don't want to see it urbanized. Whatever happened to the proposal to relocate the Supreme Court to Buzzard's Point?
Moving the Supreme Court to Buzzard's Point is now less likely to happen if the new stadium is built along the waterfront at South Capitol Street. Moving the Supreme Court was intended to bolster development along the Southwest and Southeast quadrants, as well as create a new grand Mall-like boulevard south of the Capitol for new Federal buildings, civic structures and the like.
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Old December 12th, 2005, 07:28 AM   #99
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I'm not really opposed to that, I'm more opposed to having a bunch of areas full of annoying tourists. I'm all for beautification and the current location of the supreme cout is kinda shitty, I like the idea of the 3 branches being in a triangle.
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Old December 12th, 2005, 08:04 AM   #100
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Rogers & Us
Height Squabbles Aside, D.C. Still Gets a Standout Design by a Towering Figure

By Benjamin Forgey
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, December 11, 2005; Page N01

At last, Washington will get a building designed by Richard Rogers, an architect whose luminous creativity has made a mark in many a European city for more than three decades.

Unfortunately, we are getting sort of a hidden Rogers, a reticent Rogers, a background Rogers. Not a bad Rogers, mind you, not bad at all. It will doubtless turn out quite well, perhaps even wondrously.


The U.S. Congress -- note, that is not the D.C. Council -- actually had something to do with the look of the building. For what it said were security reasons, Congress lopped off two floors of the building, reducing its height from 130 to 110 feet, after a District agency approved the height.

Congressional interference in District affairs is nothing new, but in this case, Congress did not commit an aesthetic sin. Actually, the lower height might turn out to be a bit better.

The 1936 Acacia Building, to which the Rogers building is to be attached, is one of those classically inspired, Greco-Deco efforts that are so self-effacing they practically recede from view. The stone griffins that guard the main stairwell on Louisiana Avenue NW -- precise address, No. 51 -- theoretically might combine the speed and power of eagles and lions, but somehow this pair manages to be sedate rather than ferocious.

But as far as Congress is concerned, apparently even the most menacing, stone-faced human guards would not ease concerns over security for a building that will be less than 500 yards from the nearest section of the Capitol.

Washington's notoriously complex regulatory system for getting buildings approved and built got a bit more complex in this case. The reason? An obsession with designing projects so that there will be "absolutely nothing that would somehow facilitate somebody's illegal or irrational behavior."

That's how Geoffrey H. Griffis, chairman of the District's Board of Zoning Adjustment, characterized a letter from the Architect of the Capitol objecting to the proposed height of the Acacia addition. In that January meeting, the board ignored the letter and voted to approve the variance, raising the building's permissible height by two stories, to 130 feet.

Congress did not like that, and in an outrageous but not atypical breach of the principle and practice of home rule, overruled the city agency. It did so in June by attaching a rider to an appropriations bill.

In the board meeting, Griffis did not identify the source of the architect's worry, but in a July statement to Post reporter Dana Hedgpeth, Senate Sergeant at Arms William H. Pickle noted that "a sniper . . . was one of many concerns."

Is that a reasonable worry? There is risk everywhere but, as Griffis implied, it is foolhardy to try to prevent all possible breaches of security. Micromanaging the security issue is one of the scourges of today's Washington and, in this particular case, Congress and its security forces were guilty of it.

As fates would have it, the building, in any case, will be vehemently closed to the general public. To be principally occupied by one of those huge law firms without which Washington would not be Washington, the structure will entice but not invite. The best thing about the design -- a structurally ingenious, spatially invigorating atrium -- will be inaccessible and only partially visible to folks lacking appointments with high-powered lawyers.

The building also suffers from a number of typical D.C. constraints. It is a large addition to a historic building of modest stature. It is, like all Washington buildings, subject to the city's limits not only on building heights but also on densities. The project also had to pass through the rigors of the local reviewing system -- and then some.

In the face of all that, Rogers and his colleagues in the Richard Rogers Partnership created a bold, intriguing, intelligent design for their second building in the United States. And in fact, the 110-foot height might actually be more pleasing.


(As provided in the law, officials of the JBG Cos., the site's developer, have continued to negotiate with the appropriate congressional officials. There has been no give, however, and JBG appears ready to absorb the economic loss and push ahead. For that, as well as for picking its outstanding architect, the company is to be lauded.)

The addition, to be sure, is not destined to be a city-regenerating star of the kind Rogers and company have produced in other places -- starting with the 1976 Pompidou Center in Paris (designed in collaboration with Renzo Piano) and continuing in London, Berlin, Bordeaux, Cardiff and Antwerp.

Rather, the Washington building plays a supporting role. Its destiny might be simply to steal the show in its particular Capitol Hill neighborhood. By doing so, it can perchance inspire a younger generation of Washington architects and, even more important, broaden the perspectives of the city's legion of architectural reviewers.

Like the building, the immediate neighborhood desperately could use some livening up. People in search of the nearby Hyatt Regency Hotel or the National Japanese American Memorial tend to wander about aimlessly. That will not happen after the Rogers addition is built -- it automatically will become the eye-catching landmark of the vicinity.

The five-story Acacia Building, designed with such succinct politesse by the New York firm of Shreve, Lamb and Harmon, shares its five-sided block with an undistinguished, though somewhat taller, 1953 addition, and one of those worst-of-the-1970s concrete parking structures. (Besides Louisiana Avenue, the site is bordered by New Jersey Avenue and First, C and D streets.)

It was the ugly garage, of course, that provided the economic opportunity. Only four stories tall, it was a clear target for redevelopment when purchased last year by Bethesda-based JBG, which has a long history in the Washington area. Much of the space in the replacement building immediately would be spoken for by Jones Day, the expanding law firm that occupies both the original Acacia building and the 1950s addition, JBG founding partner Benjamin Jacobs says.

Jacobs had to have nerve to hire Rogers for the job. He says he did it because Rogers had done some "very different, very exciting" work next to historic buildings in London. That puts it mildly. The developer cited, in particular, a recent commercial building next to the Tower of London. Called St. Katherine's Estate, its likes have never been seen in Washington. Or even anywhere near Washington. (Rogers's first U.S. building was built 20 years ago in an industrial park near Princeton, N.J.)

Picturesquely broken into masses of differing heights, St. Katherine's is a complex combination of metal and glass finishes, a building of many vivid parts. There are exposed stairwells and other "servant" spaces (in the manner of Louis Kahn, long an inspiration for Rogers), a towering glass atrium and office facades that have differing window patterns dependent on orientation to the sun. The whole package, the firm's description says, is enlivened by retail uses and complicated but navigable connections through and around the building.

St. Katherine's is not the most impressive of the Rogers Partnership's recent output -- which you can check on at http://www.richardrogers.co.uk/ -- but it typifies the firm's positive approach to new materials, sophisticated urban design and environmental responsibility, as well as its continuing adherence to a machine aesthetic. That last element seems almost old-fashioned these days, but it remains a fresh tool in the Rogers cabinet.

The Washington building exhibits some of the same characteristics, but it's nowhere near as complicated. It divides basically into two distinct pieces -- one boring, one not.

The boring part, of course, is the office building. It's an overly fat glass box sawed off at 10 floors in the Washington way. Potentially, two things can save it.

One is the quality of the glass curtain wall. Like the firms of Norman Foster, Nicholas Grimshaw and other British high-techers, the Rogers Partnership is famously obsessive about glass and metal and how those materials come together. "We're tenacious, and we won't let go on the quality of the detail," says Ivan Harbour, design director of the Washington job. So this might turn out to be one heck of a glass box.


Its shape might be the building's second saving grace. Rogers insisted that it be trapezoidal rather than rectangular, with a sharply angled side leading dramatically to the atrium entrance, set back about 50 feet from New Jersey Avenue. This simple but important gesture visually ties the private interior space to the public neighborhood. And make no mistake: A visual connection alone is far better than none at all.

That is particularly true with an atrium such as the one the Rogers teams has designed. With a few notable exceptions, Washington's office-building atria are nondescript empty boxes intended simply to bring in natural light. The Rogers atrium, by contrast, is the brilliant linchpin of a complex of buildings.

At the center of the basically triangular space is a stunning steel structure supporting platforms and bridges connecting the three buildings and resolving the differences in floor-to-floor heights. (In the Acacia, the measurement is a magnanimous 15 feet; in the new addition, an "efficient" 10.)

Designers often refer to the structure as the "tree" because its steel supports are akin to trunks and its bridges to limbs. Harbour prefers the analogy of an upright skier whose arms are stretched outward, holding steadying ski poles.

Whatever one calls it, this design has wonderful potential, with people walking to and from amid the visible counterbalances of structural forces. The vast triangular roof, made of glass supported by a boomerang-shaped pattern of steel trusses and cantilevers, will be a fitting treetop or, if you like, an appropriate surround for the arms of a giant skier.

If all goes well, then, in a couple of years, we'll have a Rogers marvel here in the District. And that's nothing to dismiss.
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