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Convention center delayed again as Councilmembers criticize proposed site
December 5, 1997

For immediate release
December 5, 1997

Groundbreaking for the proposed convention center at Mt. Vernon Square has been delayed again, according to news reports, while DC Councilmembers are speaking out official against the proposed site for the center.

Newschannel 8, reporting on conflicts between minority contractors and the Washington Convention Center Authority, said WCCA officials "hoped" that groundbreaking could take place by June 1998. That estimate adds nearly half a year to the previous expectations for groundbreaking. at a November 26 press conference, Mayor Marion Barry and WCCA General Manager Lewis Dawley said groundbreaking would be in February 1998.

DC Councilmembers meanwhile took the opportunity to voice doubt and outright opposition to the Mt. Vernon site during a vote on a demolition moratorium to half convention center related speculative destruction of historic properties in the surrounding Shaw neighborhood.

Ward 3 Councilmember Kathy Patterson sought to "make clear my own opposition to the Mt. Vernon site." She voted against the demolition moratorium as a "symbolic" gesture.

"I continue to believe that the Mt. Vernon Square site is an inappropriate place for the convention center," said Councilmember Sharon Ambrose (Ward 6).

Councilmember Carol Schwartz (At-large) reminded colleagues that she has never voted in favor of the Mt. Vernon site for a convention center. "I want somewhat to associate myself with the remarks of Mrs. Ambrose," she said.

Councilmember-Elect David Catania (At-large) expressed his strong opposition to the Mt. Vernon site throughout his campaign. He noted that the spiraling costs of the project have been driven by the choice of the Mt. Vernon site, which requires extensive excavation, and that the Mt. Vernon center would be the 16th largest when completed, with no room to expand.

"The convention center is one reason people voted for him," said Debby Hanrahan, a Dupont Circle resident. "The know this is a boondoggle to benefit a few wealthy businesses, not the District of Columbia."

For more information contact the Shaw Coalition at (202) 789-7864.

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