Mayor, city leaders bring down buildings, ready site for new DC United home
WASHINGTON D.C. – It took a little destruction to help prepare Buzzard Point for what will be a new home for the DC United soccer team starting in 2018.
Since DC welcomed pro soccer the team has called RFK stadium home. On Monday, buildings were leveled and the first physical movement were made to make sure the new home is a crown jewel for the entire area.
Previously, the city spent a reported $150 million on purchasing land to clear the way for the stadium.
The team will soon take over the building project. A final design for the new stadium is not yet complete.
“I’ve been telling everyone we’re the sports capital and if you want to win this is where you’ll be,” said Mayor Muriel Bowser before taking the controls of an excavator and helping to knock down one of the buildings off 2nd Street.
Ward 6 council member Charles Allen said it won’t just be United fans but the entire region that will benefit from the new stadium.
“This is a destination. It’s going to be a great space for not just southwest and not just Ward 6 but really for the entire city,” said Allen.
City leaders envision restaurants and nightlife springing up around the new stadium.
“That is the reason we do these kinds of projects is to produce the kind of tax revenue as well create jobs and create opportunities for our local small businesses,” said Brian Kenner, Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development.
Not everyone sees the project as progress though. A small group of protesters gathered outside of the fences with environmental concerns about the major reworking of the area known as Buzzard Point.
Mayor Bowser said, as with any construction project, environmental concerns are investigated and addressed before any work begins.
“There’s nothing here and we think any investment in this area is going to enhance the quality of life for everybody,” said Bowser.
There are reports that the stadium designs have not gone over well with city leaders but the mayor said the plans are not finalized. She added that her and her staff are not afraid to suggest improvements.
“We think it can be spruced up in some places, especially one area we want to make sure the building interacts with the street,” said Bowser. “The zoning commission will continue to make suggestions to the team and I think we’ll get a great building.”
Beyond a nice stadium and a bustling restaurant district, the city should also benefit from the creation of 1,000 construction and permanent jobs. Bowser said Ward 6 residents will get the opportunity to take a majority of those jobs.
The ceremony also coincided with the announcement of a new forthcoming position focused on helping job seekers turn these new positions into a career.
“Starting this summer, we’ll have a Community Workforce Coordinator who will make sure Ward 6 residents get a top priority in hiring and that’s a good thing for this community,” said Bowser. “We’ll be training people in the hospitality industry and use apprenticeships to help turn jobs into careers.”
As a construction worker, Willie Grave already has a job through the project but also calls southwest DC home. He said he’s excited to welcome the soccer team to his neighborhood.
“I love the way my neighborhood has grown and continues to grow,” said Grave. “Now that the team is moving to Buzzard point and Ward 6 I don’t have to worry about parking no more, I can just walk a few blocks to the game.”