- The Washington Times - Friday, September 22, 2006

Here’s a “We told you so moment”: This week the District’s plan to build shops and parking around the Anacostia baseball stadium imploded when developer Herbert Miller balked at a lowball buyout offer, meaning that the city’s efforts to spur development in the waterfront environs (which, after all, is a primary justification for the whole stadium project) will require the D.C. Council to appropriate additional money on top of the stated $611 million price tag, which everyone knew was fictional to begin with.

We know, we’re all shocked, shocked that the city would need to appropriate money in excess of the declared $611 million. It’s not as if anyone worried in public about this possibility — certainly not ourselves, not in more than 30 editorials criticizing the stadium’s dubious and worrisome financing non-prospects over the last four years.

The deal reportedly imploded because Mr. Miller’s Western Development would not accept a $990,000 buyout offer in the event that the project falls through. We can’t blame him, especially if it’s true (as Mr. Miller claims) that he has already invested $5.5 million on engineering, architecture and legal fees related to the project which the developer did not spend as charity.

This means that there remain two options: more expensive and even more expensive. The merely “more expensive” option would entail Miller-palatable appropriations by the D.C. Council of several times the current $1 million buyout cap. The “even more expensive” option would be any other option besides the team-owning Lerners’ preference for poured concrete garages in places where everyone else would rather shop or eat. Of course, these other options would likely be even more objectionable to the Lerners.

Mayor Tony Williams still hopes that the Miller plan can move forward, which is an admirable can-do attitude — but may have little basis in reality. Any realist could have told you two years ago that cost overruns were inevitable. Here’s the beginning of a potentially significant one.

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