Bowser stood against the backdrop of the rusting RFK Stadium on Monday to present her vision to redo hundreds of acres of surrounding land — a rare opportunity to build new waterfront communities in a land-scarce city.
Why is this important: This dream will remain out of reach as long as Congress dwells on a proposal to give the District more control over 190 acres of this land.
- It’s a move even Capitol Hill Democrats are reluctant to make due to opposition to Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder, who has stepped up his search for a new home for his team.
Driving the news: Bowser pleaded with federal lawmakers to transfer control of the 190-acre parcel from the National Park Service to the District. For Bowser, the federal inaction on abandoning the site is an affront to local rule, saying it’s akin to the city’s congressional ban on legalizing recreational marijuana sales.
Between the lines: Snyder has long spoken of wanting his football team back in DC, but federal lawmakers don’t want Snyder close to RFK, amid workplace investigations and sexual harassment allegations surrounding him, him and his team.
- Bowser dodged a question about whether she would get into a bidding war with Maryland or Virginia over incentives for a new Commanders Stadium.
- Congress must “make sure we have control of the land and the ability to use our local dollars to transform that land,” she said.
- What is built – football stadium or not – “is a local discussion”, she added.
State of play: The city’s current lease with the federal government for the RFK site runs through 2038 and limits use of the parcel to sports and entertainment.
- In the meantime, Bowser is proposing a $60 million community sports complex for indoor track and field, boxing and other sports for the site. Construction takes about five years.
- She also wants to spend $18.5 million there on pedestrian and bicycle bridges connecting Kingman and Heritage Islands on either side of the Anacostia River.
South of the RFK site on district-controlled land, the city is already building 360 housing units in Hill East, a preview of what could happen to the RFK site if the city takes control.
- Bowser wants to spend $79 million to upgrade infrastructure on mostly empty land that totals 67 acres stretching to the Anacostia River, opening up the area for development of 2,300 new homes.