May 25, 2006

What's the Impact of the Stadium?

Loyal reader Read Scott Martin recently wrote and challenged DC Bubble on our belief that the baseball stadium is helping spur growth near the waterfront. Rather than pointing to the stadium and the lack of developable land elsewhere, Martin asserts that "the Anacostia is revitalizing and growing because of good-old fashioned government intervention, not baseball. The military decided in the 1990s to move thousands of white-collar employees and contractors from Crystal City to the Navy Yard," then, then DOT moved its headquarters building there.

Ten years ago less than 3,000 people worked at the Navy Yard, and by the fall that number will be north of 16,000, Martin continued. "Baseball had nothing to do with [the growth]. As for running out of developable land, the Navy Yard rebuild was underway when the neighborhood north of Mass Ave. was still an urban prairie."

But wait, Mr. Martin, what's envsioned on the waterfront is a 24-7 community with offices, yes, but also entertainment and condos and apartments. A bunch of Navy contractors could not have spurred these other types of development. Most recently, Camden Living, a Texas apartment developer, bought two lots totaling about 41K SF in the 1300 block of South Capitol St. SW at the corner of O Street, just across from the baseball stadium site.

Crystal City, where the cadets were coming from, was famous for its 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. sterility. No one living there. No one dining out, shopping or whooping it up. Without the stadium, the waterfront would have developed much more slowly and very, very differently without the stadium. In ten years, M St. by the waterfront will look more like M St. in G'town than Crystal City.

No comments: