Thursday, April 7, 2005

A newly formed corporation has acquired more than a dozen lots near the site of the planned Major League Baseball stadium in Southeast, but officials aren’t saying what they have in store for the site.

NJA Associates LLC bought 16 lots along the 1100 block of New Jersey Avenue SE in January, just weeks after the D.C. Council narrowly approved financing for the nearby baseball stadium, according to city property sales records.

The sole organizer for the new corporate entity is listed as Lewis F. Morse, according to the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, which regulates corporations in the District. Mr. Morse, a lawyer with D.C.-based Greenstein Delorme & Luchs, PC, declined to comment yesterday.

The corporation was formed on Nov. 22, 2004, according to city records. It is registered at 2101 Wisconsin Ave. NW, the same address as the Donohoe Cos. Inc., a real estate development company. A Donohoe official yesterday confirmed the company has plans to develop the New Jersey Avenue property, but said officials aren’t prepared to announce any details.

Sales records show properties were purchased by NJA through three transactions — all on Jan. 11. The sellers for three of the lots that NJA bought for $1.5 million were listed as Daniel Resnick, Martin Resnick, Stephen Resnick and Helene Carol Resnick Kahan.

A group called Square 743 Investors LP sold 12 of the lots for $2.9 million, while New Jersey Avenue Associates Limited Partnership sold another lot for $1.7 million, according to city sales records.

The Donohoe Cos. has developed hotels, office buildings and retail projects across the metropolitan region. The company also owns a vacant lot located within the stadium footprint — one of several dozen properties that city officials will need to buy before building the stadium by 2008.

Donohoe President Peter Gartland yesterday declined to comment on any negotiations with city officials on the ballpark lot. He said the company’s plans to develop nearby property on New Jersey Avenue are not tied to the stadium project.

“We had it under contract before baseball happened,” he said.

City officials have predicted a wave of development along the South Capitol Street corridor and Anacostia River waterfront prompted by the ballpark’s planned opening in 2008. But some D.C. Council members have said property values have already increased so much that the stadium site could become too costly.

D.C. Council member David A. Catania, at-large independent, this week expressed concern about estimates released by the D.C. Office of the Chief Financial Officer. Those figures project it will cost the city about $77 million for the land on the stadium site, including legal fees.

A spokesman for the council member yesterday said Mr. Catania thinks the financial estimates “are way off,” based on an ongoing review his staff has been conducting of other property sales in the area.

A spokeswoman for D.C. Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi said Mr. Gandhi plans to release details sometime next week to explain how consultants arrived at their estimates for $77 million in land acquisition costs. The study was conducted by consultants for the firm Deloitte & Touche at a cost of $466,000, officials said.

“He’s agreed to do it as a courtesy to the council members and to make sure the numbers are correct,” said Maryann Young, spokeswoman for Mr. Gandhi. “It’s his responsibility to take the council’s concerns seriously.”

D.C. Council member Jack Evans, Ward 2 Democrat, yesterday said he has confidence in the city’s financial estimates, but added it wasn’t a bad idea to review the figures.

“We’ll let the process play itself out, but I can’t imagine the numbers will change much,” he said.

• Eric Fisher contributed to this article.

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