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As D.C. Council members debate the proposal for a new soccer stadium in southwest Washington, much of the controversy surrounding the deal involves a plot of land across town in northwest D.C.
To make the D.C. United soccer stadium work, the Council needs sign off on land swaps between the city and private developers. Basically, the city trades taxpayer-owned parcels in return for the land needed to build the stadium.
The key land swap involves trading away the Reeves Center at 14th and U streets in Northwest. It is a valuable piece of land where right now the city houses several municipal agencies but — if turned over to private developers — could easily turn into a high-priced condo building given its location on U Street and access to Metro.
Neighbors who live around the Reeves Center have expressed concern over the deal, and last night several Council members, along with the developers and other partners in the deal, held a meeting at the Reeves Center to talk with residents.
Jim Graham, the outgoing Council member who represents the neighborhood, tried to frame the issue.
“Number one, is this a good financial deal for the people of the District? Are we getting a good deal for this absolutely splendid asset at 14th and U? Are we getting the right price? And I think we have to be very, very careful with this issue," Graham said.
Graham said the appraisal of 14th and U — which was based on three independent appraisers as part of the proposed deal — seems low and he remarked that if the property went to auction, it would likely bring in offers from around the world.
But he also softened his stance toward the project, noting that Akridge, the developer in the proposed deal, seems to be making a good-faith effort at listening to what some neighbors would want in a new building, namely commercial development that provides daytime commerce.
The Council will hold another hearing on the soccer stadium deal later today.