Mayor Anthony Williams last week turned up the rhetorical heat in his battle to condemn Skyland Shopping Center to make way for a proposed bond-financed redevelopment project.

In response to reporters' questions about the redevelopment plan at his press briefing Wednesday, Williams suggested that the owners and tenants of Skyland were abusing local residents by refusing to allow a more upscale mall to be built where their businesses currently stand.

Condemnation is necessary in such cases because "people without the help of government are abused by private interests," the mayor said.

The current owners and tenants have been "sitting on this property for years and years and have refused to turn it into a higher and better use," said Williams, who is also president of the National League of Cities.

The district has applied to D.C. Superior Court for permission to expropriate land at the shopping center. The plan calls for about $25 million of tax-exempt financing to be used to transform the existing mall in southeast Washington into a retail center with a discount department store and a supermarket. The city's redevelopment arm, the National Capital Revitalization Corp., is overseeing the project and is expected to assemble the Skyland land parcels, conduct initial site preparations, and relocate current tenants. (c) 2005 The Bond Buyer and SourceMedia, Inc. All rights reserved. http://www.bondbuyer.com http://www.sourcemedia.com

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