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'Teams' to Develop Ballpark Area

By Dana Hedgpeth
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 13, 2005

District officials said yesterday that by spreading the development of land around the new ballpark in Southeast among several companies they hope to ensure a more diverse project that will focus investment on the area more intensely and ripple more quickly into the surrounding neighborhoods.

The city's Anacostia Waterfront Corp., which is charged with overseeing development around the proposed baseball stadium at South Capitol and N streets SE, changed its plan for naming one "master developer" and instead named two teams that pair local investors with national experts in projects near sports arenas.

Many details remain to be negotiated, including such issues as whether government-owned land in the area will be sold to the developers outright, or whether the city will share the revenue generated by whatever is built.

But the broad outlines of the project became clear in the announcement that Monument Realty LLC of the District would team with the Cordish Co. of Baltimore to develop a roughly 10-acre parcel north of the stadium's entrance, while a partnership between District-based Western Development and Forest City Enterprises Inc. of Cleveland would be in charge of a parcel half that size to the east of the stadium.

Developers with the companies have sketched complementary ideas for the area, with some emphasizing more intense retail uses, and others focusing on a combination of retail and office space meant to create year-round traffic for the area.

By bringing all of those ideas into play, District officials said they felt they could capture the best of what each company offered -- and also spread the financial risk of any potential problems across several companies.

"We realized that it is a big enough site that we didn't need one overall master developer," said Adrian G. Washington, the chief executive of Anacostia Waterfront. "People brought different things to the table."

The potential for development in a currently industrial part of town is considered a key selling point for the Southeast site.

District officials have said in the past that development around a new stadium could include up to 3,000 apartments or condominiums and more than 3 million square feet of office, retail and parking space.

Cordish is best known for developing retail along Baltimore's Inner Harbor and is working on a $450 million mixed-use project around the St. Louis Cardinals' new ballpark as well as a similar project at the San Francisco Giants' stadium.

Monument is better known for developing offices in the District, but it has spent some $45 million since last year to buy land in Southeast abutting the proposed stadium site on its north side -- an area it hopes will become the "gateway" to the Washington Nationals' new home field.

Western Development and Forest City will develop a smaller site along the Anacostia River that is owned by the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority and used to store equipment. Next to that site, Forest City already is developing the massive Southeast Federal Center into a mix of retail, office and residential space, and it expects to link that project with the land next to the ballpark.

Western Development is known for developing retail in Georgetown and Potomac Mills.

"Monument was a substantial landholder," Washington said. "Cordish had experience with doing destination and ballpark-oriented retail development. Forest City is a large, national player that has knowledge of doing big projects, and Western has substantial retail experience.

"All of them are big companies and have strong balance sheets, but putting all of them together, they have bigger resources. . . . We would have been comfortable with any one company but having more companies involved is clearly less financial risk."

Forest City chief executive Thomas W. Henneberry, who helped oversee the development around Jacobs Field in Cleveland, will take a lead role in coordinating an overall plan and selecting an architectural firm that will design how the area is developed, city officials said.

Anacostia Waterfront received responses in the fall from nine developers interested in becoming the "master developer" of the stadium area. Last month, it narrowed the list to four developers, and Washington said that in the past few weeks, he worked with the development teams to decide an overall structure that "made sense for everybody," as opposed to choosing one over the other.

The only exception was Akridge, a major developer in the District that helped build Gallery Place. Akridge had put in a bid to become the master developer near the baseball stadium but was not included in the final plan -- at least in part, company officials speculated, because they were not willing to offer as much money as the other companies for publicly owned land in the area.

"We're disappointed, but the selected parties are capable players," said Matthew Klein, president of Akridge, which has a nine-acre parcel in Southwest, not far from the stadium, that it plans to turn into a major mixed-use site.

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