- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The city’s plan to build two parking garages on the north side of the Washington Nationals’ new stadium in Southeast and wrap them in condominiums, a hotel and retail outlets collapsed yesterday, when the developer who was supposed to build the project rejected the deal.

A source close to the situation said the developer balked at the District’s buyout offer of just under $1 million if the project were canceled.

“For all intents and purposes, that deal is dead,” the source said.

The plan called for two parking garages accommodating 925 cars to be surrounded by condominiums, with stores and a hotel at street level. The city planned to sell the land for the project to developer Herbert S. Miller and contribute to the cost of the parking part of the project.

But the parking plan required the approval of the Nationals, whose owners and management team have expressed skepticism about whether the project can be completed by opening day in April 2008.

According to the source, the developer was concerned that a buyout would not cover the costs he has concurred if the Nationals vetoed the plan.

“I am disappointed Western Development has not accepted our fair and reasonable offer,” D.C. Sports & Entertainment Commission member Bill Hall told WTOP Radio. “The Sports Commission is now considering our options with respect to providing parking and development we want on the site.”

A spokesman for Mayor Anthony A. Williams said he was hopeful a deal could still be reached.

“We’re moving forward with the plan, and we’re hoping it works out,” spokesman Vincent Morris said. “The mayor is hoping it gets done with Herb Miller.”

Mr. Williams has said that he prefers Mr. Miller for the parking development project, but construction on the facilities would have to begin by the first week of September to be finished in time for Opening Day 2008.

Mr. Williams was returning to the U.S. from Ireland last night and was unavailable for comment.

D.C. Council member Jack Evans, Ward 2 Democrat and chairman of the Committee on Finance and Revenue and a key player in the baseball negotiations, said last night that he was unaware the deal had fallen through.

The city is required by contract to provide 1,225 spaces at the stadium site to serve the team, plus holders of luxury suites and season tickets. But it has only $21 million budgeted to fulfill the total requirement.

The sports commission has said it will spend $18 million to construct an underground parking garage for about 300 cars on the south side of the ballpark, leaving only $3 million to contribute toward a much larger parking development to the north.

nAmy Doolittle and Michael Hunsberger contributed to this report.

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