One of the latest artistic renderings from the old convention center site. (Another is below the jump.)

The other day, a commenter inquired about construction on the huge empty lot south of New York Avenue, otherwise known as the old Convention Center site.

“Doesn’t look like any buildings are going in, but they have it fenced off and there are workers and trucks all the same. Any idea what’s going on?”

Well, here’s your short answer: Tennis.

The Washington Kastles, D.C.’s tennis team, will be playing in a 3,000 seat  stadium at the site starting on July 7. (This year, Serena Williams is playing for D.C.)

The long answer is that, back in late 2007, the city closed on a $850 million deal with Hines and Archstone-Smith to turn the ten-acre parcel into much, much more than a place where the Williams sisters can show off their powerful strokes and fierce tennis fashion. 

The deal originally included tons of office space, parking, retail, including a grocery store, and 20 percent of units constructed as affordable housing. It’s being called CityCenterDC.

“The project will break ground in January 2009,” the city’s website still reports. 

Of course, details change, especially in this economy. The latest news coming out of Hines/Archstone-Smith is that the team has selected a contractor for the project. In February 2009, the team chose Clark Construction Group and Smoot Construction to build the project, according to Kim Jagger, Director of Corporate Communications for Hines.  

As for a start date, Jagger said the groups could not commit to one at this time.