Home City park Dispute between Nationals Park and DC could threaten concerts and other events

Dispute between Nationals Park and DC could threaten concerts and other events


The district is playing hardball in a dispute with the owner of Nationals Park, threatening to close the stadium if Events DC fails to develop the commercial and retail space it promised before the stadium opened in 2008.

As part of its original deal with the city, Events DC had committed to building 46,000 square feet of commercial and retail space around Nats Park, located along the Anacostia River in the Navy Yard neighborhood. . But the company – arguing that the “extremely unique circumstances” of the pandemic and other business factors made those initial plans unworkable – is now seeking to be released from that responsibility.

If no agreement is reached, the dispute could threaten games, concerts and other events scheduled at the ballpark.

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Instead of the original development, Events DC proposed to complete a significantly smaller 17,000 square foot structure that is already attached to the ballpark at First Street SE and Potomac Avenue SE as retail space only.

“Events DC and the Washington Nationals look forward to moving forward with the construction of existing retail space and providing more options for the now vibrant Capitol Riverfront community,” wrote the DC Events spokesperson Christy Goodman in an email.

At the heart of the heist is a routine document that businesses must have in order to operate. The Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, in a move increasing pressure on Events DC to continue with its promised development, said it would not renew the temporary occupancy certificate the ballpark has been using ever since. on opening day in March 2008.

That certificate is set to expire Sept. 30, according to the Washington Business Journal, which first reported the snafu. The Nationals’ final home game of the season is scheduled for Oct. 2.

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DCRA spokesman Daniel Weaver said a statement from the agency was forthcoming.

The Nationals did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The dispute comes at the end of a discouraging season for the Nationals and amid growing uncertainty about the real estate market. Earlier this year, three seasons removed from a triumphant World Series title, the Lerner family put the team up for sale, saying they hoped to receive initial offers before the final regular season outing. At least five interested parties, including a mortgage magnate and a South Korean billionaire, have considered a purchase, The Post reported last month.

But Events DC, a company that bills itself as “the premier host of conventions, entertainment, sporting and cultural events in the nation’s capital,” owns Nationals Park itself, in addition to city landmarks such as the Walter E.Washington Convention Center. and RFK Stadium. The $611 million ballpark welcomed baseball to the district with a landslide victory on March 30, 2008.

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In its public filings with the DC Zoning Commission, Events DC asked to be released from the agreement it entered into prior to its debut to build the 46,000 square feet of commercial and retail space. He said reducing his previous engagement on development appears to be the only way to resolve the impasse with the DCRA and obtain a permanent certificate of occupancy.

If the commission agreed, the company said, it would also obtain planning permission for the project within six months of the decision. In the meantime, he would ask for yet another extension of the temporary occupancy certificate.

The company’s vision for the 17,000 square feet of retail space is itself scaled down from a larger design it submitted in August 2019. At the time, the vision included 35,000 additional square feet as part of a destination for restaurants, commercial spaces and sports. The project has received DC Council approval and a commitment from Events DC of $3.6 million, according to Events DC’s filing with the zoning commission.

But then covid-19 hit, and so did the difficulties in aligning public funding. The double impact, according to the filing, also put that vision on hold.