02 Mar 2012

Dan Snyder Giveaway Coming to Reservation 13?

photo uploaded to flickr by Team Traveller

Here we go again. Let’s plop some giant unworkable scheme down in Reservation 13. This morning, Washington awoke to a front page article in the Post entitled, “D.C. opens new drive to lure Redskins back.” So we’ve got to do this all over again. Let’s see how many ways this is a monumentally dumb idea:

1. A free or discounted lease, as the Post reports as a possible lure to the Redskins, would represent a huge loss of potential revenue. This tract of land needs to be commercially developed to provide tax revenue to a growing city that desperately needs and wants to invest in education, transportation, job training, and the myriad of other things that are real priorities for the residents of DC. In fact, transferring Reservation 13 from the federal government to DC was done specifically to increase the tax base of the city.

2. The “District is in a challenging fiscal environment now & publicly funded stadium not possible.” Hmm, never mind, that only applies to soccer.

3. A football stadium is a bad idea, developmentally speaking. It gets used about a dozen times a year, with maybe a few more concerts and special events thrown in. 100,000 people descending for half a day only a few times a year does not produce the consistent sidewalk traffic needed to open a restaurant or bar. Not to mention that tailgating, and hence acres and acres of desolate surface parking, is ingrained in football culture.

4. Furthermore, we’re not even talking a stadium (yet). This is simply a training facility, with a handful of employees year-round. The available space will be taken up by fields and parking lots that do nothing for the community.

5. Not to mention, this is where we WANT bars and restaurants to go. Reservation 13 has the potential to be an extension of Capitol Hill all the way to the River. I want new retail space. I want new restaurants. I want new neighbors, affordable housing and market rate alike. I want them joining our community (and paying taxes!).

6. This completely mishandles a real attempt to put in motion Mayor Gray’s One City mantra. One of the most disappointing elements of the Great Redistricting War of 2011 was the chasm it exposed between Ward 6 and Ward 7. Part of that, I argued, was that we were not divided by a river, but rather  by almost a mile of failed government projects. Acres of surface parking, highways, railroads, defunct hospitals, and so on prevent me from really engaging my Ward 7 neighbors. Why add another? The training facility, stretching from Independence Avenue south, would add yet another barrier to the River, and hence to my neighbors across it and bungles a real opportunity for us to grow closer together.

7. We’ve already paid the Federal government $5.8 million to purchase land for them elsewhere to build a congressional postal sorting facility, and free up the space for commercial development. We did that for the Redskins?

I have nothing against the Redskins… well, except for their history of overt racial discrimination; for their owner who bullies local newspapers (badly); and for their continued use of an offensive name. Many people, including clearly the Mayor, have fond memories of the team, and I respect fans who cheer their local team. Past wrongs can be addressed (and in many ways have been); the team could be sold and name could be changed; and this would remain a profoundly bad idea.

The Mayor, Jack Evans, and Michael Brown secretly visited Tampa to check out the Buccaneers facility, and have been in talks with Dan Snyder for some time, but have yet to come to Hill East to explain this very significant change to our neighborhood. This week, the Mayor announced that he will belatedly come to Hill East to engage residents:

Monday, March 26, 2012

7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Eastern High School

1700 East Capitol Street NE

Now, I’m not really worried that I’ll wake up one day to find cranes building a new stadium.  No less a figure than Marion Barry has said this is “fantasy land”. Tommy Wells is right on target in today’s Post article by being “adamantly opposed” because, “it deprives the Hill East neighborhood of a development vision that had been promised.” Other jurisdictions, namely Loudoun and Prince George’s Counties, are clamoring for a chance to build a facility there. No, I imagine this is simply Dan Sydner holding the football for Mayor Gray’s Charlie Brown.

The real danger isn’t that the Redskins come to Reservation 13. The real danger is that Reservation 13, a long promised boon to Wards 6 and 7, will be delayed yet again for nothing better than a vanity project.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=703202072 Erik Heilman

    “In fact, transferring Reservation 13 from the federal government to DC was done specifically to increase the tax base of the city.” How’s that working out so far? Maybe I’m coming late to this party, but I see very little progress that tells me we’re realistically headed towards this mecca of bars, restaurants, mixed use properties, riverfront parks, extended Hill East community, etc. I’ve seen the plans and read the grand visions – they look amazing. But the same forces that’ve killed or stalled other business-friendly plans in this city before seem to be winning this time too. Tommy Wells’ “development vision that has been promised” has been just that…a vision.

    (Admittedly I’m not as informed about all the ins and outs of Res 13 and its history – but is it possible to do both? Can a practice facility AND some version of that promised development vision plan coexist? I’d get behind that in a heartbeat.)

    Lastly, as a lifelong DC area resident and Redskins fan, I’m embarrassed that none of the Redskins assets are actually in DC. I’m proud to live in the shadow of the site of past Skins glories – even if it is a sad, dying remnant of times past. If the Skins – even just the practice facility – were to come back to DC proper, DC resident fan interest would increase. Especially given its location, metro access, etc. And even if for a brief time during training camp when the public can come watch – it’s that perfect bridge between the communities on either side of the Anacostia that I agree is lacking. Hill East – like the rest of the Hill at large – is full of transplants who bring their sports loyalties with them (including this blog’s author?). Those of us who actually root for our local team would love to be able to do so without go to Loudon or PG Counties for once.

    Erik
    14th St NE

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_KOD6R4F26N5D6ZLXIEEBT23MAU Fred

      Well said Erik.
      HAIL.
      Fred
      11th and C SE

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_KOD6R4F26N5D6ZLXIEEBT23MAU Fred

      Well said Erik.
      HAIL.
      Fred
      11th and C SE

    • http://twitter.com/dennymayo Denny

      You’re high if you think the public will be allowed to watch the team play.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=703202072 Erik Heilman

        Every year when training camp opens, the public are allowed to come – every team does this, every year. I’ve been several times and it’s an amazing experience for fans to watch practice up close and personal, the players interact w them, there’s tons of games and activities for kids and families. You size up the new rookies, watch the veterans, get excited for the upcoming season, etc. See http://www.redskins.com/news-and-events/training-camp/schedule.html
        Being around other Redskins fans is really the only time I feel a close connection with other real Washingtonians with whom I share very little else in common. It’s this experience that I was referring to. This practice facility we’re talking about, isn’t just a bunch of buildings. It’s a presence – of your team, in your city….and in our case, in your neighborhood. This matters and has value.

    • http://twitter.com/dennymayo Denny

      You’re high if you think the public will be allowed to watch the team play.

    • http://www.dclikealocal.com Tim Krepp

      First off, it’s not Tommy Wells plan. It’s the community plan, it’s the city’s plan, that was in the works when Tommy was still on the school board. We’ve been following the ups and downs now for a decade.

      This thing was finally ready for RFP’s when Mayor Gray took office. All we heard is that he had to study, etc, etc. This hasn’t happened because Mayor Gray tabled it.

      Clever move, sabotage the Res 13 plan, and then folks think we need the Redskins to move forward.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=703202072 Erik Heilman

        I think all of us want to see the Res 13 plan move forward – we want this vision to finally be realized. I can’t wait to spend more time over on Half Street and would relish a version of that in our neighborhood. But you said it yourself, it’s been 10 years and nothing. But more than that, we want SOMETHING to be done with that big neglected piece of our neighborhood. And so far, nothing has. Every new administration or city council brings different priorities with it, economic forces play a huge role – plans like this often needs some stars to align and so far they haven’t. So why trash something like the Redskins move – something that appears to actually have legs and could bring some real excitement to Hill East – all in the name of holding on to what seems more and more like a pipe dream? If Res 13 were further along, if it really was happening, I would say no Redskins move (again, unless it was able to be a complement to the whole plan). But as it stands, I’d much prefer the Redskins in our neighborhood than old, decrepit wastelands of space.

        • http://www.dclikealocal.com Tim Krepp

          Again, to say nothing has happened shows no understanding of the process. It took well over a decade for the District to get clear title on the land, including a sunk cost of nearly $6 mil to build the Feds a new postal facility. This was the result of painstaking work of dozens of public officials stretching back over ten years. And we’re not even talking about the thousands of man hours put into crafting a master plan.

          These things are slow. I wish to God they weren’t, but that’s how this process works. And after years and years of effort (virtually none of it mine by the way, I claim no credit), we were finally in place to see results.

          Then two things happened: the credit bust dried up real estate investment everywhere. And then Mayor Gray came to office and has quietly and effectively killed what so many have worked for.

          So to say that it’s a “pipe dream” is a self fulfilling prophecy. It’s a pipe dream because the Mayor WANTS it to be a pipe dream so that he can bring the ‘Skins in.

    • http://www.dclikealocal.com Tim Krepp

      First off, it’s not Tommy Wells plan. It’s the community plan, it’s the city’s plan, that was in the works when Tommy was still on the school board. We’ve been following the ups and downs now for a decade.

      This thing was finally ready for RFP’s when Mayor Gray took office. All we heard is that he had to study, etc, etc. This hasn’t happened because Mayor Gray tabled it.

      Clever move, sabotage the Res 13 plan, and then folks think we need the Redskins to move forward.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=703202072 Erik Heilman

        I think all of us want to see the Res 13 plan move forward – we want this vision to finally be realized. I can’t wait to spend more time over on Half Street and would relish a version of that in our neighborhood. But you said it yourself, it’s been 10 years and nothing. But more than that, we want SOMETHING to be done with that big neglected piece of our neighborhood. And so far, nothing has. Every new administration or city council brings different priorities with it, economic forces play a huge role – plans like this often needs some stars to align and so far they haven’t. So why trash something like the Redskins move – something that appears to actually have legs and could bring some real excitement to Hill East – all in the name of holding on to what seems more and more like a pipe dream? If Res 13 were further along, if it really was happening, I would say no Redskins move (again, unless it was able to be a complement to the whole plan). But as it stands, I’d much prefer the Redskins in our neighborhood than old, decrepit wastelands of space.

  • http://twitter.com/NotoReservation No to Reservation 13

    Keep the professional (ha!) football stadium in Ward 9 (PGC) and the practice facility in Loudoun. Call Mayor Gray and tell him to tell Allen Lew to stop research on this.

  • http://twitter.com/NotoReservation No to Reservation 13

    Keep the professional (ha!) football stadium in Ward 9 (PGC) and the practice facility in Loudoun. Call Mayor Gray and tell him to tell Allen Lew to stop research on this.

  • Anonymous

    Erik — the problem here is that the District government has been dragging its heels at the development. In May of 2008, there was a Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEI) based on the master development plan. Four (4) developers responded. After a lengthy review process, ANC 6B endorsed one of those plans in Jan. 2009. Later in 2010, the District came back and said we want to change the rules and only develop a part of the site. Since then … nada.
    The “vision” can be very much real — if the District wants it to be.
    Putting in a training facility shuts that door permanently.
    BUILD THE PLAN!

  • kpjarboe

    Erik — the problem here is that the District government has been dragging its heels at the development. In May of 2008, there was a Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEI) based on the master development plan. Four (4) developers responded. After a lengthy review process, ANC 6B endorsed one of those plans in Jan. 2009. Later in 2010, the District came back and said we want to change the rules and only develop a part of the site. Since then … nada.
    The “vision” can be very much real — if the District wants it to be.
    Putting in a training facility shuts that door permanently.
    BUILD THE PLAN!

  • Anonymous

    Nostalgia of having the Redskins back inside DC again is Gray’s motivation for this latest diversion. Jack Evans (CM-Ward 2) and Redskins Mgr, Bruce Allen are involved in this fantasy project too. Bruce Allen when GM of Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2004-2009, oversaw the building of a traning facility there. Gray, Evans & Allen seem to be pushing this misguided development upon DC Taxpayers. Dan Snyder has not been quoted in approving or disapproving a new training facility.

    The Redskins are now in MD, everyone should just accept that, get over it and allow the Reservation 13 development plan proceed.