- The Washington Times - Friday, January 17, 2003

Two of the District's biggest economic-development advocates outlined their goals for the city yesterday, touting more than a dozen neighborhood-revitalization plans and boasting of a major effort in the coming weeks to lure a Major League Baseball team to the city.
Mayor Anthony A. Williams and Harold Brazil, chairman of the D.C. Council's committee on economic development, spoke at a breakfast downtown before a room of District officials, real estate workers and reporters. The event was sponsored by the Washington D.C. Marketing Center.
In a 30-minute presentation, Mr. Williams reiterated his desire to attract 100,000 new residents to the city within the next 10 years, calling for higher-density development and more housing. Mr. Brazil touted shorter-term goals, including the loosening of regulations to spur development and designating two neighborhoods for heavy investment from developers.
Mr. Williams said attracting a Major League Baseball team by 2004 was at the top of his to-do list.
"Over the next couple of months, that will be our highest priority," Mr. Williams said. "We've got to make it move and we're going to make it move."
The District, which has five different stadium proposals, is competing with several other cities, including Portland, Ore., Charlotte, N.C., and San Antonio, to attract the struggling Montreal Expos. Northern Virginia has also mounted a bid. Candidates will meet with baseball's relocation committee within two months.
Mr. Williams hinted that construction of a new ballpark would not be an easy proposition, given the lack of available money for such construction in the District's general fund. But, he said that if the city attracts a team, the ballpark must be placed where it can help the surrounding economy.
"You want to put it where it has the most effect, but a lot of times what has the most effect gets you in some political congestion," he said.
Mr. Williams said the construction of a ballpark would help speed up revitalization of central areas of the city including the area in and around the existing convention center site. A ballpark could also help other underused areas like the St. Elizabeths Hospital site in Southeast and parcels of land along the Anacostia River.
But Mr. Williams said development will happen in the city regardless of whether it lures baseball or not. There are currently 2.6 million square feet of development under construction in the District and 1.9 million square feet planned, Mr. Williams said.
Key development projects either under way or in the planning stages include:
The Anacostia Waterfront Initiative, to spur development along the Anacostia River. Other plans are in the works to connect neighborhoods along the river to the rest of the city.
Development of the existing convention center site. Plans include new retail and office space, plus theaters and open space.
Development of office, retail and residential space around a proposed Metro station on New York Avenue.
Both Mr. Williams and Mr. Brazil said affordable housing must be a key component to any development, and they spoke in favor of legislation that provides more money to promote homeownership for low- and middle-income families.
Both men acknowledged the grand scope of the District's development agenda, particularly in the context of a growing budget deficit for the city, slow economy and potential war with Iraq.
"There are things beyond our control that may upset us," Mr. Brazil said. "My message is to keep the momentum going."

Property Lines runs Fridays. Tim Lemke can be reached at [email protected] or 202/636-4836.



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