District officials said yesterday that they are negotiating a land swap with developer Kingdon Gould III to get control of property he owns at Massachusetts Avenue and Ninth Street NW, where Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) hopes to locate a major hotel to complement the city's new convention center.
Under the terms of the proposed agreement, Gould would give up about an acre and a half of land he has owned since the early 1980s in exchange for a similar parcel two blocks away at the old convention center site.
Most of the old convention center's 10-acre site is already slated for new offices, condominiums and retail space under a proposal approved yesterday by the D.C. Council. However, up to 200,000 square feet is available to be traded to Gould.
If it works out, the deal with Gould could end the fight between Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp (D) and the mayor over where to put a 1,000-plus-room hotel designed to house visitors of the new convention facility at Mount Vernon Square.
Cropp has said she wants the estimated $400 million hotel put on the old convention center site, arguing that because the city already owns the land, it could save on the hotel's development costs. Williams thinks the hotel should be built on Gould's site at Massachusetts Avenue and Ninth Street, closer to the new convention center.
We're trying to own the land where we want to put the hotel, said Stephen M. Green, the District development director who has been in the negotiations with Gould. "It seems to make a difference to some people." The land the city wants from Gould would need to be appraised, and a deal would require council approval. Local developers said Gould's land is worth roughly $9 million, or $150 a square foot.
Cropp said she would favor a land swap with Gould if it is "a good deal for the city."
"I would be in favor of putting the hotel on the Ninth Street site, closer to the new convention center, if it is shown to me that the site can fit the hotel, plus space for more ballroom and meeting rooms that the convention center can use," Cropp said. "And it has to make economic sense."
The Washington Convention Center Authority and the city's economic development office said they are working on an analysis of how much it will cost to build the hotel at each of the proposed sites and how to pay for it. That study is expected by the end of the month.
Gould said he is interested in doing the swap with the city so that he can get started with building something. His Massachusetts Avenue property was chosen as the site of a new Marriott hotel, but the project bogged down in the dispute between Cropp and the mayor.
"I've been at this for three years. . . . And I don't want to be sitting around another three years," Gould said.
If he swaps land with the city, Gould said he will probably put office and residential units on the old convention center property.