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D.C. United Stadium Deal May Hinge On Salvage Yard That Does Not Want To Move

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Super Salvage Inc. is located where the field of the new D.C. United stadium is supposed to go, but the owners were never contacted about the city's plans to move them out.
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Super Salvage Inc. is located where the field of the new D.C. United stadium is supposed to go, but the owners were never contacted about the city's plans to move them out.

D.C.'s plan to build a new soccer stadium in southwest Washington has been hailed as a "landmark" deal by city officials. But a new complication might make the deal more difficult to complete than many realize.

If you pull out a map of where the city plans to build the new $300 million, 20,000-seat D.C. United stadium, get in a car and drive down to where the middle of the field might be, you'll hear the crunch of metal on metal, smell the kind of acrid smoke that burns your nostrils, and see 10-, 20-, even 30-foot piles of steel, aluminum and other materials.

Welcome to D.C.'s last remaining salvage yard.

"That's the sound of the world going around and the end of life of material from one respect, but new life for material in another respect," says Bob Bullock of Super Salvage Inc., an employee-owned company that's been in business for decades.

"The stack of stuff over here, these are all radiators that are going to be compacted into bundles," he explains near one mountain of metal.

Here's the problem: You can't play soccer on that mountain of metal.

When city officials held their major press conference two weeks ago down at stadium site, they left somebody off the invite list—the neighbor next door at the salvage yard. In fact, Bullock says the city has never even reached out.

"What do we think? We don't know what to think. Nobody from the press, nobody from the team, and nobody from the D.C. government has been in touch with us. What we know is what we read in the newspapers, you are the first press to do anything about it," he says.

The stadium deal is built around a series of complicated land swaps: The city trades a couple of its properties for several owned by private developers and—voila!—space for a new stadium. Except for the deal to go down, they need Super Salvage's land.

Which brings us to problem number two: Super Salvage isn't exactly looking to move.

Bullock says they haven't ruled out working with the city—city officials tell WAMU that they plan on contacting Super Salvage soon—but there are very few places left in D.C. to relocate the salvage yard, which is valued at $7.5 million.

"It's conceivable that some sort of arrangement could be made, but moving a place like this is going to be tremendously expensive and just getting a place to move to is not the whole battle," he says.

And if Super Salvage doesn't move, the mountain of metal stays, and the stadium deal, as Bullock might say, might be sent to the scrap heap.

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