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Gray Says Eminent Domain Could Be Used For D.C. United Stadium

A rendering of the new D.C. United stadium at Buzzard Point.
D.C. United
A rendering of the new D.C. United stadium at Buzzard Point.

While a package of details on a proposed plan for a new D.C. United stadium is set to be delivered to the D.C. Council on Friday, Mayor Vincent Gray said on Wednesday that the city may be forced to use eminent domain to claim two parcels of land on the site where the stadium is set to be located.

Speaking at a press conference, Gray and City Administrator Allen Lew said that the city currently controls 88 percent of the land needed for the 20,000-seat Buzzard Point stadium, but that negotiations had largely broken down with two remaining landowners.

"I thought we were making progress, and then it's kinda of come to a, I wouldn't say a total stalemate, but we're not in agreement on the numbers," said Lew, referring to the two parcels: one owned by developed Mark Ein, the other a salvage yard.

After the stadium deal — in which D.C. would put $150 million towards land and infrastructure upgrades and the team $150 million towards construction — was announced last year, WAMU 88.5 reported that Super Salvage had not been contacted about the stadium deal, despite the stadium requiring the land currently occupied by the salvage yard.

Since then, said Lew, the city has not been able to come to an agreement with the yard or with Ein, who owns an adjacent parcel. (See graphic below.)

"We haven't been able to consummate a transaction with the other parties yet," said Lew.

Gray said that negotiations were ongoing with Ein and the owners of the salvage yard, and said that the city could always use the power of eminent domain to claim the land.

"The prospect is always available to us... of using eminent domain. We'd like not to do that, but option is always available to us to move forward with this project," he said.

In 2005, D.C. took $84 million worth of land from 16 owners to make way for what became Nationals Park.

Lew said that the D.C. Council, which will have to sign off on the deal, will get the full package of details on Friday. Earlier this week the Washington Post reported that the revised deal would exempt the team from property taxes for five years and direct a combination of sales taxes and a $2 surcharge on tickets to the city.

After the Council receives the details, it will have to pass legislation to enable the city to exchange land with Akridge, which owns land on the stadium site. The firm is set to get the Reeves Building at 14th and U streets NW, an idea criticized by some legislators.

Lew said that he does not expect any moves on the remaining land — including the use of eminent domain — until the end of the year.

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