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Councilmembers urge halt in funding for Mt. Vernon convention center site
May 4, 1998

Citing mounting controversy, ballooning costs, and increasing questions regarding the Mt. Vernon site for a new convention center, D.C. Councilmembers Sharon Ambrose (Ward 6) and David Catania (At-Large) plan to introduce emergency legislation Tuesday to halt spending on the Mt. Vernon plan for a new convention center until a financial feasibility study for the project is submitted.

The Council has become increasingly skittish about the Mt. Vernon site as project costs have soared from $450 million to $650 million to over $1 billion, depending on whose estimates you believe.

The 17-acre Mt. Vernon site — requiring unprecedented underground construction in two submerged river systems — is said to be driving the cost of the project.

Meanwhile, support is growing for the alternative 26- to 45-acre site at Union Station, which citizen groups say would allow a better, cheaper, faster convention center. No underground construction would be required at that site. Parking and transportation connections would be optimum. The Mt. Vernon plan, by contrast, includes no parking.

Charles Lewis, Chairman of the North Capitol Area Business Association, and Rick Sowell, a Ward 5 Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner, suggested the Mt. Vernon funding moratorium. “If the Councilmembers got accurate information, they would not support the Mt. Vernon site,” Sowell said. “The Union Station site offers more economic development where it¹s really needed.”

Councilmember Sharon Ambrose (202) 724-8072
Councilmember David Catania (202) 724-7772
Charles Lewis, Chairman, North Cap. Area Bus. Assoc. (202) 462-1819
ANC Rick Sowell (202) 232-6902
Beth Solomon, Shaw Coalition (202) 789-7864

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