At our meetup on November 12, 2014 DC for Democracy members unanimously approved the following resolution:
The Mayor’s Proposal and the Consultants’ Review are weighted heavily to the advantage of the Developer and Soccer Team Owner, to the disadvantage of District residents. DC For Democracy therefore opposes not only the current Proposal but also the Proposal if revised to reflect the CR findings because they would continue to fall far short of the interest of the public. The Council should consider the soccer stadium along with the fiscal year 2016 Budget.
On November 13, 2014, Dan Wedderburn, DC for Democracy’s Chair of the Government Reform Committee testified before the DC Council Committee of the Whole regarding the DC Soccer Stadium Development Act of 2014 (Bill 20-0805).
Mr. Chairman, members, I am Dan Wedderburn, Chair of DC For Democracy’s Government Reform Committee. DC For Democracy (DC4D) is a leading non-aligned progressive group in the District with hundreds of members.
The results of the Council Consultants’ Report on the pros and cons of the Mayor/John Akridge Agreement are weighted heavily to the advantage of the Developer, to the disadvantage of the District.
The consultants accepted and did not challenge key components of the Agreement: that DC pay up to half the total costs, or $150 million; DC sell the Reeves Center to Akridge well below its fair market value and prohibits DC putting it out for bid; DC must buy 5 parcels at Buzzard Point AND lease the soccer site to DC United; DC ten must pay environmental cleanup of an industrial site that could cost untold millions.
Also the consultants did not consider any alternatives to the Agreement, such as putting Reeves up for bid or having the developer lease the soccer site.
DC Fiscal Policy Institute estimates the city will pay 63% of the total costs including tax abatements of $50 million.
CFO’s John Ross testified that the proposed tax abatements up to 10 years “…are not necessary for the Team.”
Consultants appraised Reeves at $66.8. The CFO officially appraised it at $128.6 million for 2014. Then when the Mayor and Akridge were negotiating their Agreement, OCFO reduced it to $73 million. Why?
Consultants estimate it will cost $84 million to construct a new Municipal Center in Ward 8. A competitive sale of Reeves could easily pay this. The Proposal and Consultants nowhere discuss how to fund this.
The Mayor-elect on Nov. 7 said she did not see the necessity to sell Reeves Center.
There is no need to rush to judgment on the Soccer Stadium. An Agreement would have significant impacts on next year’s Fiscal Budget and Hearings that need to be dealt with first. This is DC4D’s Recommendation.