- The DC Zoning Commission has given its "proposed" approval for D.C. United’s $300 million soccer stadium, according to SB Nation’s Black and Red United.
- The stadium proposal will now go before the National Capital Planning Commission, which has 30 days to review and offer comments on the project, a timeline that all but ensures a final February zoning commission vote.
- With the stadium design resolved, discussion at the meeting centered around community issues such as the health of residents during construction, environmental impact and transportation to and from the venue.
Team officials said equipment would be set up during construction to monitor potential dust and chemical flow into the surrounding area and that those devices would ensure that contaminants were kept to a minimum. Team consultants also told the commission that transportation and parking details would be worked out six to nine months before the stadium opened for business.
The team has jumped through several hoops in its quest to gain approval for the soccer stadium, first trying to win over the commission with an acceptable design, and now explaining how the construction and operation will affect the community.
Even as far back as the initial negotiations, the commission has put the team and its owners on the hot seat. The city and team were only able to come to a financial agreement after D.C. United offered up a $5 million escrow in order to safeguard the city's investment in case the project didn't happen. In the end, the city and the team agreed to split any construction cost overruns up to $20 million.
Then the stadium design became an issue for the zoning commission, as well as for surrounding landowners who said the project did not provide enough elements, like ground-floor retail, to attract visitors beyond the stadium and into the surrounding business district. This, they said, would impact their ability to negotiate profitable projects and lease deals in the future. One of the commissioners went so far as to compare the project to a prison, but designers have since altered the layout and look of the facility to the satisfaction of the city and area business owners.
On the positive side, officials said the project should create an estimated 1,000 construction and permanent jobs and contribute $1 billion in economic activity to the surrounding area. The team selected Turner Construction to build the stadium earlier this year and awarded the company a $150 million contract.