WASHINGTON - District of Columbia Mayor Adrian Fenty yesterday announced Clark Realty Capital will be the city's development partner in transforming the $2.5 billion, 110-acre Poplar Point project, which will likely involve bond financing.
Fenty also disputed reports that an official proposal for a new D.C. United professional soccer stadium using public dollars is in the works, but said that "various conversations" are ongoing about including a home for the team in the new Poplar Point waterfront neighborhood in the Ward 8 section.
Sean Madigan, spokesman for the office of the deputy mayor for planning and economic development, which is heading the Poplar Point project - a portion of the larger, $10 billion Anacostia Waterfront Initiative - said a "substantial" portion of the project's price tag will include municipal bonds. He added that the city is "quite a bit away" from being able to estimate the amount.
Clark Realty has proposed a mixed-use development for project, including housing, retail, a 70-acre park mandated by the federal government, businesses dedicated to the environment, and a charter school.
Neil Albert, deputy mayor for planning and economic development, said the project will be developed in four phases, in what he hopes will be a 10- to 15-year construction period, which would start in two to four years with housing and retail first.
Albert said the official financing plan is far from being finished, and that administration officials will negotiate with Clark Realty for the next six to nine months to solidify a development plan. Albert noted that environmental remediation could take a year to a year and half before any construction begins.
Poplar Point is currently controlled by the federal government, but Congress authorized a site transfer to the city government, with the condition that a federal environmental impact study be done.
The city is requiring that at least 51% of the jobs created by the development go to district residents, that the project include affordable housing, and that 35% of the contracting dollars be awarded to small and local certified businesses, according to a press release.
Clark Realty is currently finishing the Washington Nationals' stadium, which the baseball team will occupy this coming season. The district issued $535 million of taxable and tax-exempt bonds for that project.
Last year, the city was in talks with D.C. United's owner, real estate tycoon Victor A. MacFarlane, to build the soccer team's stadium at Poplar Point and develop the property, but Fenty pulled out of talks in August and opened it up for competitive bidding. MacFarlane has since said he is considering moving the team to the city's suburbs.
Though Fenty responded with short answers to questions about the possibility of a Major League Soccer stadium using public funding for construction yesterday, he did say that it could be considered.
As far as having a plan, though, Fenty said: "We are not at that point yet."
Fenty reportedly told the District Council at a private meeting Wednesday that $20 million in excess revenue has been collected per year from the Washington Nationals' ballpark tax revenues, and said that could be a possible means of funding for the soccer stadium.
"I think most people understand it will require a public subsidy," Fenty said at the press conference yesterday. "What that public subsidy will be, we don't have one yet ... There are no specific proposals." He added that there are conversations going on about a possible stadium.
When Fenty was a member of the District Council, he voted against using public funding for the $611 million baseball stadium.
Fenty said yesterday that he was not opposed to public funding for the new Nationals ballpark, and only opposed to an "unfair" deal. The mayor said he would "never support a deal that was 100% city-funded."
Since taking office, Fenty has been under pressure from Ward 8 residents and public officials to move the Poplar Point project forward and to bring a D.C. United soccer stadium to the area help further development.
Former District of Columbia mayor and current council member Marion Barry yesterday said he was confident, following the briefing from Fenty on Wednesday, that the District Council and the mayor are committed to the "concept of a stadium," but that there is "a lot of work to be done, a lot of negotiations" left to be done. q