Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Well, until something else comes up, that is. But it appears a major step has been taken forward in the ongoing saga of parking next to the National’s new ballpark in Southwest DC. On November 14, the DC Council finally approved legislation that would put two three-story, free-standing parking structures north of the stadium (and one two-story structure south of it) in time for its opening in Spring 2008. This vote overruled the DC Zoning Commission’s ruling this past July banning such a parking solution, finding it would harm economic development in the area. Back when the ballpark project was first announced and everything was smiles and roses, soon-to-be-ex Mayor Williams envisioned a below-grade parking solution to allow for mixed-use development above the garage as part his Anacostia revitalization plans, and went so far as to reach an agreement with developer Herb Miller to build two 13-story condo towers on the site (this fell through in September when DC Sports and Entertainment objected about the project’s financing). However, the Lerner family – the new Nationals owners - wanted less expensive free-standing, above-ground parking, as they feared a more ambitious plan wouldn't be ready in time. In the end, Mayor-to-be Fenty pushed forward the Lerner plan. The vote this week at least solves what was shaping up to be a major headache - the city is required to provide 1,225 parking spaces by March 1, 2008 or face heavy penalties. One can only hope that the same efforts placed into this parking situation will be put into building a winning baseball team – if so we’ll have some World Series victories coming.