Two years ago, it was Howard Town Center. Chief Financial Officer Natwar Gandhi had determined that the mixed-use development by Howard University didn’t need an $11 million tax abatement, but the D.C. Council didn’t care: It approved the tax break in less than a minute, with no debate.
Now it’s the D.C. United stadium. The office of CFO Jeff DeWitt found that the team doesn’t need a break on its property and sales taxes in order to build a stadium at Buzzard Point. Even though the team has been losing $4 million to $5 million a year, the CFO’s office concluded that because the team has doubled in value recently and its owners have enough cash to buy a large chunk of the Italian team Inter Milan, a city tax break isn’t needed for the team to secure financing for the stadium. (The team disagrees, arguing it needs the tax abatement.)
No matter, says the Council: This morning, its finance committee voted to approve the tax abatement, with no discussion. Committee Chairman Jack Evans and David Grosso voted aye, while Council Chairman Phil Mendelson voted present.
The bill still has to clear the full Council—-and even then, it’s no sure thing. The Howard Town Center development plans collapsed when Howard terminated its agreement with the developer. Likewise, the stadium tax breaks won’t mean much unless the stadium actually gets built. And first the Council, which has been skeptical of elements of it, has to lend its support.
Rendering from D.C. United