DC mayor wants to discuss parking

DC mayor wants to discuss parking

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Calling the Washington Nationals' new ownership group "condescending," Mayor Anthony A. Williams responded Wednesday to criticism that parking lots around the team's new stadium won't be finished on time.

Williams raised the issue at a news conference two days after a group led by local real estate developer Ted Lerner formally finalized its $450 million purchase of the Nationals from Major League Baseball.

"You put up $450 million dollars, we put up $611 million dollars," Williams said, referring to the money the city is spending for land and construction costs associated with a ballpark slated to open in 2008. "We're trying to get some benefit from it for our people, and you know, excuse me, we don't need condescending attitude."

The mayor is hoping to set up a meeting with Lerner over parking issues soon, Williams' office said Wednesday night.

On July 7, city zoning officials approved the mayor's proposal to fit four levels of parking inside two condominium towers. The $281 million residential-retail complex would also feature a hotel, shops and restaurants.

That day, incoming Nationals team president Stan Kasten called the condominium towers a "speculative development" that won't work, adding that the plan threatens to disrupt the ballpark's deadline and budget.

Regular garages were favored by Lerner, who has said they were more likely to be ready by the city's promised opening date.

Under its agreement with baseball to build the stadium, the city faces stiff financial penalties if the ballpark doesn't open by April 2008 and the Lerner group could also lose millions if the stadium and parking spaces are delayed.

"We have to seize this opportunity to see it to it that we strike the right balance between providing them with the parking that they need," Williams said Wednesday, "and motivating and promoting the economic development that this site promises."

After the mayor's news conference, Kasten released a statement that read, in part: "The new Nationals ownership has nothing but appreciation and respect for the enormous work and political courage of Mayor Williams and the D.C. Council in making big league baseball a reality in the nation's capital. We have been consistently supportive of their commitment to Major League Baseball to deliver a first class ballpark on time and on budget."