Firms Bid on Land by Stadium

Developers are vying to transform the area around the proposed future home of the Washington Nationals, near the Anacostia River waterfront in Southeast Washington. Nine firms bid to become the
Developers are vying to transform the area around the proposed future home of the Washington Nationals, near the Anacostia River waterfront in Southeast Washington. Nine firms bid to become the "master developer." (By Andrea Bruce Woodall -- The Washington Post)
By Dana Hedgpeth
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, October 22, 2005

A Washington developer has offered the city $180 million for the rights to buy and develop publicly owned land around the proposed new baseball stadium in Southeast as part of a process expected to reshape one of the city's most blighted areas.

District-based Monument Realty LLC's offer was among nine bids that met a Friday deadline to become the "master developer" that will oversee construction of the millions of square feet of housing, retail, office and hotel space expected around the new stadium, which is to open in 2008 at South Capitol and N streets SE.

With competing plans for hotels, glassed-in promenades, upscale retail, outdoor cafes and office towers, the streets around the stadium could in the next decade become what the Baltimore-based Cordish Co. termed a "compelling 'urban village,' " similar to the developments that have sprouted around other contemporary urban ballparks.

In its proposal, Cordish cited its experience developing the area around the San Francisco Giants' stadium and Ballpark Village, near the St. Louis Cardinals' future home.

"We have a chance here in D.C. to create a destination that's enhanced by 80-something nights of baseball a year," said Jeff Neal, a partner at Monument, which joined with Federal Realty Investment Trust of Rockville in its proposal. "We want to bring in several thousand residents there, offices, retail, restaurants and entertainment. . . . We're envisioning things that will make a neighborhood work."

Monument said it is willing to pay $180 million for roughly 13 acres of land that the city and other government agencies own around the stadium site. The company already has invested about $45 million in the area and has become the dominant landowner on the blocks just north of the stadium. It plans to build some 850,000 square feet of office, residential and retail space on the land it already owns in the area and would add more than 2 million square feet to the project if its proposal is chosen by the city.

The master developer will coordinate planning and development of about 40 acres of land around the new stadium, including what would be a prime strip of Anacostia River waterfront and the 13 acres owned by the city government and other agencies.

Not all the companies offered the city cash to take over the project. One proposed splitting the net proceeds of the new development with the city, in addition to paying a base rent; others lacked details about how they would compensate the District. The amount of construction also varied, ranging from around 3 million square feet to more than 5 million square feet. The proposals have not been released by the quasi-public Anacostia Waterfront Corp., the agency responsible for overseeing the development of the area. However, four of the developers provided details of their plans to a reporter.

All included a mix of residential, commercial, retail and hotel development.

The other bidders are Akridge of the District, which was involved in building Gallery Place downtown; LNR Property Corp.; Trammell Crow Residential; Triden Development Group LLC; Forest City Enterprises Inc. and Western Development Corp.; the Franklin L. Haney Co.; and the DSG Capital Group.

The Haney Co. is owned by Franklin L. Haney, a local real estate developer who is among the bidders trying to buy the Washington Nationals from Major League Baseball for $450 million.

Though their proposals differed, all the developers who shared their plans agreed that the area around the stadium is ripe for a renaissance.

"The city needs to look at baseball as more than just a stadium but give it its own unique context," said Herbert S. Miller, who runs Western Development. His plans with Forest City Enterprises of Ohio include a major promenade down Half Street and retailers in the area such as Target and Barnes & Noble.

Jonathan Cordish, a vice president at Cordish Co., said the city's request for development ideas around the stadium amounted to "a fastball down the middle of our organization."

"This is what we do," he said. "Our focus and track record is dead on for this kind of project. We know how to do these projects that are intended to serve as an economic catalyst and a linchpin to redevelopment in an area."

Stephen Goldsmith, chairman of the Anacostia Waterfront Corp., said he expects to select a lead developer by early December.

"It's a good list of developers," he said. "It's good for the District because there will be a healthy competition of a lot of people with substantial experience. . . . This is a highly complex effort that will have a large effect on the future of the District, its property-tax revenues and its neighborhoods."

Staff writer David Nakamura contributed to this report.


© 2005 The Washington Post Company