- The Washington Times - Friday, July 7, 2006

The D.C. Council’s Committee on Government Operations yesterday ruled that two parcels of land on the north side of the Washington Nationals’ new ballpark site can be sold or leased by the city — a key decision that could allow for the development of parking garages, housing and retail on the land.

With the committee’s approval, the city can now seek to sell the land for $61 million to D.C.-based Western Development, which has promised to help satisfy the city’s requirement for stadium parking by building two garages for 925 cars, then masking them with 600 condominiums, 50,000 square feet of retail space and a 180-room hotel.

The D.C. Zoning Commission approved the plans Thursday. The council’s Committee on Economic Development will vote Monday on whether to sell the land to Western. The full council will follow with a vote of its own on Tuesday.

The city is required to provide 1,225 parking spaces at the site. The D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission, which is in charge of building the ballpark, said it will provide 300 spaces underground, just to the south of the stadium. The rest of the required spaces would be included in the Western plan.

Members of the Government Operations Committee yesterday said they did not want to risk exposing the city to damages if the stadium and parking are not completed by Opening Day of 2008.

“If we don’t get this ball rolling, we probably won’t get the stadium done in time, or the parking we committed to,” said Carol Schwartz, at-large Republican and a member of the Government Operations Committee. “I very much don’t want to be responsible for that happening, and for the tens of millions of dollars in penalties we might have to pay.”

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