"There, it should be not just neighborhood-serving retail, but it could be a larger retail anchor," Altman said. "It's a site that has Metro access, freeway access and it should be a major retail place. That's how you maximize the ballpark investment."
Altman said he expects to have a master plan for zoning roughly 50 acres around the stadium site done in June to show developers, business owners and residents. Some of the land near the stadium site, historically industrial, has already been reclassified for mixed-use development.
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That leaves developers to determine which locations are best and what the land is worth.
John E. "Chip" Akridge III said he's been trying to buy land around the stadium but is not sure what he would pay for it.
"It's not entirely clear to me what it's worth," Akridge said. "We've been trying to get [land] but we've not been able to get our hooks in yet. . . . Price is the obstacle."
Monument Realty is trying to secure two city blocks on N and South Capitol streets SE to build an office, retail and residential development.
"We're looking at all these parcels and trying to assemble and think one step ahead of people," Hines said.
Monument bought a corner of one of the blocks from Leslie Ulanow, whose father ran a paper-recycling business there for 30 years, for roughly $31 per developable square foot. The rest of the block, and another one next to it that Monument wants, belongs to several longtime owners, including the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. Some are reluctant to sell and say they want to try developing it themselves.
"With the stadium there, the area is going to mature and ripen a lot faster than it would have otherwise," Hines said. "Now there's a reason to be there."
A division of the Donohoe Cos. paid $6.2 million for 10 parcels in the 1100 block of New Jersey Avenue SE, said Bert F. Donohoe Jr., a vice president at Donohoe Real Estate Services.
Douglas Jemal, who developed run-down properties near the MCI Center, said he closed last week on land in Buzzard's Point, just south of the stadium site on the riverfront. He would not say how much he paid but said he plans to turn the land into a project similar to Baltimore's Inner Harbor.
Next to Jemal's site, Florida Rock Industries Inc., which runs a cement mixing company, has plans to turn its site on the river, just south of the stadium site, into 1 million square feet of housing, hotel, retail and office space. It plans to begin building when the stadium is close to opening in 2008 -- depending on how the real estate market and economy are doing, said David W. Briggs, a land-use lawyer for the project.
"It will still be a pioneering effort to do this kind of project there because you have to convince tenants and operators that there's enough activity," Briggs said. "But it's well situated to do a project that will be active 365 days a year and not just on the days there are games."
"We're in conversations with people on stuff we own there," said Bill Durkin, who with a partner owns about three acres in the area north of the stadium site. Durkin would not say who he was talking to. "We've owned land there for 25 years and it's got potential," he said. "That's why we've held on to it. It's next to the water, near the Navy Yard and next to DOT's new site."
"The last thing that had a catalyst like this was the MCI Center," said Leonard Greenberg, who owns about two acres at I and Half streets SE. "That anchored the east side of town. Now we've got a piece of land that's locked in between the Capitol and the baseball stadium. It's a good place to be."
Some people who live near the stadium site said they are watching closely to see what developers plan. They worry about increased traffic from the stadium and other development.
"We need restaurants and shops that play to the stadium crowd, but we also need grocery stores, coffee shops, hardware stores, dry cleaners and bookstores for those who live around here," said Mary C. Williams, an neighborhood advisory commissioner who lives near South Capitol Street by the stadium site. "We need to not just attract people to the community to spend money but we need to meet the needs of residents."