- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 20, 2005

Today is the deadline for property owners in Southeast to comply with the D.C. government’s demand that they give up their land for the District’s proposed Major League Baseball stadium, but club owner Robert Siegel says he plans to keep fighting.

“I am scared to death,” said the landlord of many of the neighborhood’s homosexual strip bars and adult theaters. “And I have lost a tremendous amount of business, and right now we don’t even know if the stadium is going to be moved or relocated to RFK Stadium. That’s what I want. That’s what I am hoping for. And at the end of November, I will find out.”

D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams this week ruled out the RFK option, which some D.C. Council members have suggested as a money-saving alternative. The stadium is being used as the temporary home for the Washington Nationals.

D.C. Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp, at-large Democrat, said she will block other council members from making any major changes to the deal because it was derived from an agreement signed with Major League Baseball requiring the District to build a new ballpark in Southeast by March 2008.

The District has informed Mr. Siegel and 22 other property owners on the 21-acre ballpark site that they will have to move as soon as next week, or the District could exercise its eminent domain powers.

Mr. Siegel, 55, owner of Glorious Health and Amusement, an X-rated homosexual movie house and video store, said his attorney is asking for an injunction.

“The assessment is bananas.” said Mr. Siegel, who is an Advisory Neighborhood Commission member and has been in the warehouse area since 1979. “The city has offered me $6.7 million, and $6.7 million dollars doesn’t buy you diddly.

“This is my home,” he said. “If I lose my house because of baseball, I lose my commission, how about that.”

Mary Pacaco, manager of N Street’s nearly 17-year-old Quality Carry-Out, said the deadline sneaked up on her.

“We are scared because we don’t know where we are going to go,” she said, pointing out that the restaurant was built around the steady influx of nearby blue-collar workers.

Neighbor Joe Woodridge, who has run District Transmission for 37 years, said he may not relocate his business in the District at all.

“I am thinking about moving to New Orleans,” said Mr. Woodridge, 65, who has bought a house in the Big Easy. “That’s my home, and my wife wants me to retire.”

Robin Marshall, who is one of about 50 employees at Connecticut-based Lane Construction’s Senate Asphalt division on P Street, also said it would be difficult to relocate.

“Most of our work is in the city, so we don’t want to be too far away from D.C.,” Mrs. Marshall said. “We know we are going to have to move, but in order to find a facility that will facilitate the size we need we would probably have to go … too far south.”

City officials said they have struck a deal with one landowner at the ballpark site but that most others have been either unwilling to sell or have not responded.

Most landowners have been offered about three times the amount at which properties were assessed, but many have resisted selling because the rise in land values around the ballpark site have outpaced the city’s offers.

D.C. officials have said they would like to secure ownership of the land by Dec. 31, with construction on the stadium to begin in March.

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