District of Columbia officials have agreed to review the Southwest waterfront to see whether they can appease area residents who have complained about plans for a massive, multimillion-dollar International Cultural and Trade Center there.
But city officials and the Southwest residents still differ on whether the review the city has agreed to perform will include examination of--and possible changes in--plans for the trade center itself.
Some residents say certain buildings planned for the trade center would be too high and block their waterfront views, that traffic would be too heavy, and that the plan does not integrate the trade center into the community.
"It does nothing to enhance the waterfront," said Lloyd Reeves, vice president of Advisory Neighborhood Committee 2-D.
"It is no more than another project of office buildings with no benefit to our area."
Reeves said community groups asked Mayor Marion Barry last week to stop the trade center project until a comprehensive plan could be done. But the mayor's spokeswoman said the city will move forward on the project while the review is going on.
A group of city officials--headed by Ivanhoe Donaldson, deputy mayor for economic development--is to meet weekly with the group to try to resolve their problems.
"It's an attempt to put a comprehensive plan on the board," said Ron Britt, president of the Southwest Neighborhood Assembly. The community groups want an overall plan that would encompass everything from the fish market off Maine Avenue SW to the nearby row of waterfront restaurants and Waterside Mall to the east.
Barry made no promises to change the trade center proposal itself, and Courtland Cox, a special assistant to Donaldson, said the trade center plan will not be part of the new discussions.
The community groups, however, say they will continue to push for changes in the proposal as part of the review.
The $217-million trade center would be built on 17 acres from the fish market to Seventh Street SW and from the Southwest Freeway to below G Street. It is to have four parts which will include an exhibition center and three auditoriums, chancery offices of foreign governments, federal offices associated with trade and exports, and an international bazaar of specialty retail shops.
"There are a lot of people who are opposed to the International Trade Center right out," said Britt. "They see it as a massive piece of concrete that violates what people value on the waterfront." But he said he also hears positive comments.
Michael F. Brimmer of the Federal City Council, an influential group of local business leaders that has coordinated planning of the trade center among city and federal agencies, said the group has already had more than 200 meetings with 1,000 community people and that it took their concerns into account.
At the highest point, the trade center still is lower than the neighboring L'Enfant Plaza and Town Square Towers, he said.
A separate traffic study is being done, and the Federal City group says the number of parking spaces along the waterfront will be doubled by the project.
The trade center plan has been submitted to the National Capital Planning Commission, which is scheduled to vote on necessary urban renewal plan changes for it on Thursday. If approved, it would go to the D.C. City Council, and finally Congress must approve it.
City Council member Charlene Drew Jarvis (D-Ward 4), chairwoman of the housing and economic development committee that will consider the proposal, said she is "very supportive" of the trade center plan. She said she will participate in the executive branch review as well as hold hearings on the proposal.
The Federal City Council hopes the proposal can be submitted to Congress in early 1984, final plans reviewed in 1985, construction begun in 1986 and the project completed by 1988.