Friday, August 4, 2006

The D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission said this week it will spend $18million to construct an underground parking garage for about 300 cars at the south side of the Washington Nationals’ new Anacostia Waterfront ballpark, leaving only $3million to contribute toward a much larger parking development to the north.

The budget crunch comes as the result of a D.C. Zoning Commission decision requiring parking at the south side to be underground and covered. Earlier plans called for the parking to be below the surface, but without a roof, and were considerably less costly.

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 $21million budgeted to fulfill the total requirement.

To provide parking for the remaining 925 cars, the city is negotiating with developer Herb Miller to build two large parking garages and mask them with 13 stories of condominiums, plus retail and hotel facilities. Under the tentative financial arrangement with Miller, the developer would pay about $39million for the land, and the commission would pay for the garages.

But with only $3 million left to spend, the commission could ask Miller to pay for the garages in exchange for a lower purchase price on the land, or work out some other financial arrangement that will not require more city money. It is possible, however, that the commission would ask the D.C. Council to approve more funds for the project and is eyeing a possible council meeting Aug. 15. A spokesman for Mayor Anthony A. Williams, however, said yesterday the mayor will not ask the council to approve more funds.

In any case, negotiations are expected to be completed within the next week because construction on the parking facilities must begin by the first week of September to be finished in time for Opening Day 2008.

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