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The $490M Short-Term Plan For The RFK Campus Includes A Sports Complex And A Market Hall

When DC United moves into its new stadium on Buzzard Point next year, RFK Stadium and the surrounding 190-acre campus will be left vacant. Events DC, the District's sports and convention agency, is looking to fill that void quickly with a $490M plan for the next two to five years, presented to the public yesterday. 


The short-term proposal's most ambitious element is a 350k SF sports and recreation complex, estimated to cost roughly $228M. The complex, sitting to the left of RFK stadium in the above rendering, would be comprised of three parallel, arched sections intersected by a fourth piece. The potential uses include indoor fields and courts for team sports and entertainment uses such as go-karts, indoor skydiving, bowling and batting cages. 

To the north of the stadium, the plan calls for three outdoor, multi-purpose athletic fields, plus a 2,900 SF support building. Two of the fields would be for soccer and lacrosse, while the third would include a youth soccer field and two baseball diamonds. 

"As the dad to a four and a half year old, I don’t enjoy having to drive out to Maryland or Virginia every time there’s a birthday party, every time there’s some type of event going on," Ward 6 Council member Charles Allen said, to a round of applause, at Thursday's community presentation. "I’d like to be able to stay closer to home and also keep those dollars in the District." 


On the northern part of the site, the plan calls for a 62k SF market hall, estimated to cost about $26M. With a 47k SF ground floor and a 15k SF mezzanine level, the market would include prepared food, specialty foods, groceries, non-food items, herb and vegetable gardens, and interior seating. 


"DC has a great Eastern Market and Union Market, but it doesn’t really have a magnificent grand market hall like Europe has that can be a destination and where people can buy fruit and vegetables," Chairman of Events DC's board Max Brown, above, said in his presentation. "It’s a food desert over in that part of the city."

Richard Layman, a member of the Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee, expressed skepticism about the need for another market during the Q&A portion of the event. Layman said he's worked on urban markets, including Union Market, for more than a decade.

"There probably is not enough economic demand to support a market hall of 61k SF within a mile of Eastern Market," Layman said. "Especially one to be paid for to compete with Eastern Market by city funds." 


To create greater connectivity, the plan also calls for the construction of three new pedestrian bridges. The northernmost bridge would connect Kingman Park and River Terrace, the second would connect the RFK site to Heritage Island, and the southern bridge would connect the southern portion of the site to Kingman Island. The bridges would cost an estimated $18.5M.

The plan would also create a new road running north and south along the water from Benning Road to the southern part of the site, improving access to the sports complex.


ANC 6B10 commissioner Denise Krepp (above) voiced concerns about this road, given that Donatelli Development's Reservation 13 mixed-use project, which will include 344 residential units and 33k SF of retail, is already creating new roads in the area and residents want to see the green space connected to the waterfront.

"We were told by Reservation 13 that it would go all the way down to the water, they did not foresee that major road that you were talking about," Krepp said. "What we don’t want in our part of Capitol Hill is a disconnect between contractors, which it looks like to me right now."

Klepp also expressed concerns about the impact of more construction on residents in the area, including potential environmental effects of ripping up acres of asphalt parking lots. 


The final part of the short-term plan includes a memorial to Robert F. Kennedy. The design of the memorial has yet to be decided, but it will take an estimated 10 years to go through the approvals process.  

Events DC, funded by convention revenue and tourism-related taxes, plans to pay for 49% of the $490M short-term plan, with another 17% coming from DC tax rolls. The remaining 34% is expected to be privately funded. The agency's timeline for the project, which cannot begin until it goes through the approval process, aims to have the outdoor fields deliver first in Q3 2018. The market hall is planned to deliver in Q4 2020, followed by the sports and recreation complex and the transportation infrastructure in Q4 2021. 

The long-term plan for the site, after RFK Stadium is demolished, is still going through the design process. OMA New York has created designs for three scenarios, one with an NFL stadium anchor, one with a 20,000-seat arena anchor (rendered above), and one with no anchor. The NFL stadium plan would be the costliest, an estimated $2.31B, followed by the 20,000-seat arena anchor at $1.47B and the no-anchor scenario at $821M.