Poplar Point update

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D.C. United

\ A big crowd of D.C. residents and city officials jammed themselves into a sweaty school auditorium last night to see presentations by four groups vying for the rights to develop Poplar Point, a 150-acre swath of land across the river from the Nationals new ballpark. \

\ The development teams spoke in generalities about their proposed vision for the area, each suggesting millions of square feet of office, residential and retail space, plus hotels, community centers and parks. A new soccer stadium for D.C. United at the site was proposed by two teams, which saw the facility as an option, but not necessarily a focus of the development. \

\ If you recall, Mayor Adrian Fenty earlier this fall abandoned a plan to partner with D.C. United owner Victor MacFarlane on building a soccer stadium at Poplar Point, preferring to hold a competitive bidding process for redevelopment of the site instead. In asking for bidders, Fenty did not require a soccer stadium to be included in plans, and MacFarlane, who owns a prominent real estate development company with large holdings in D.C., declined to submit a bid.\

\ A team comprised of developers Archstone Smith and Madison Marquette proposed two plans for Poplar Point. The main proposal included plans for retail, parking and a movie theater just north of the Anacostia Metro Station. An optional plan called for a new soccer stadium to be built there instead.\

\ Clark Realty Capital also proposed an “optional” soccer plan, that called for a new stadium to be built just northeast of the Anacostia Metro, right along the edge of the riverfront. \

\ The city is expected to make a final selection of a developer by the end of this year. Even then, that selection would only guarantee the company the right to negotiate with the city on a plan for the site. The city is also in the process of acquiring the needed land from the federal government, which could take as long as 18 months, and official estimate that construction can’t begin on the site until 2010 at the earliest. A deal for a soccer stadium for D.C. United would likely require an additional negotiation involving the team, the city and the site’s developer.\

\ Meanwhile, D.C. United officials have had early discussions with jurisdictions outside the District about about building a soccer stadium, including Prince George’s County in Maryland and Loudoun County in Virginia.

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