What went wrong with failed arena deal? Alexandria’s mayor says all parties made mistakes

The D.C. council is expected to hold a final vote for upgrades at Capital One Arena on Tuesday. It comes after Alexandria’s mayor reacted to the failed proposal to bring the Washington Wizards and Capitals to the Virginia city.

Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson wrote that the city missed the potential to “dramatically reshape” its economy and ease the tax burden on homeowners when the proposal for a new arena and entertainment district fell through at Virginia’s General Assembly.

Wilson said the failed deal is “perhaps the most negative financial event for our schools, public safety and human services in recent history.”

He wrote that partisan politics on the state level prevented the city from ever bringing the plans to residents for consideration.

Wilson specifically pointed to how the failed deal affects city funding.

This year, homeowner’s property taxes make up the bulk of city and school funding. Wilson said the city is not making enough money on businesses paying property taxes, only 19% of the tax base.

He compared it to Arlington, which has a larger portion covered by businesses and because of that, lower tax rates of anywhere in the region.

All parties, he said, made mistakes in the months since the project’s announcement.

“The City (myself included!), the Governor, the General Assembly, Monumental Sports and Entertainment and JBG all made significant mistakes during this process,” he wrote to residents. “We’ll all take lessons from the experience.”

He said the city will now have to look at other locations for a groundbreaking development after a nearby shopping center near the Potomac Yard site extended its lease for 20 years.

If approved Tuesday, the D.C. council will commit over $500 million to revitalize the arena, keeping the Wizards and Caps in place for decades.

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Luke Lukert

Since joining Ƶapp Luke Lukert has held just about every job in the newsroom from producer to web writer and now he works as a full-time reporter. He is an avid fan of UGA football. Go Dawgs!

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