D.C Mayor Muriel Bowser on Monday highlighted investments in the Hill East community that include plans for a new D.C. Jail and a proposed sports complex on the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium campus.
Bowser, speaking at a press conference while joined by administration officials and D.C. Council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6), said that redevelopment on the RFK campus cannot start until the federal government transfers ownership of the land to the District government — a move that the mayor said must take place as soon as possible.
“We have a proven track record — at St. Elizabeths’ East, Walter Reed, The Wharf, and Hill East — of putting underused federal land to better use for D.C. residents, and the RFK campus holds 190 acres of extraordinary potential,” Bowser said. “With Congress’ help, we can turn 190 acres of asphalt and grass into affordable housing, recreation, jobs, and more. And the time to act is now. Washingtonians need these opportunities now and the land is there. We are moving forward with plans to advance the Hill East community, and now it is time for Congress to do what is right and move forward with the full transfer of the RFK campus to the District.”
Bowser proposed to build a $251 million, modernized facility added to the D.C. Jail complex that will focus on treatment and rehabilitation in her fiscal year 2022-2023 budget. The proposed budget also has funds to build a $60 million indoor sports complex, SportsComplex@RFK, designed to accommodate gymnastics, indoor track & field, boxing, and other activities for residents.
“Too many of our young people are going to other states to train and to participate in boxing matches and cheerleading competitions,” the mayor said. “We have the talent here in the District and we need to keep it here. The sports complex will be a good venue for citywide competitions.”
Delano Hunter, director of the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation, praised the building of the sports complex.
“We are going to bring fun to this site,” Hunter said. “We are going to bring fun to this campus. There is a glaring need for a multi-complex in this city.”
Bowser said her budget includes $18.5 million to build pedestrian and bicycle bridges across the Anacostia River to connect residents to the River Terrace neighborhood, the RFK campus, Hill East, and Kingman and Heritage Islands.
Bowser said the RFK campus has enough space for a new stadium to woo the Washington Commanders back to D.C. as well as other amenities.
“I have said many times that we have the best site for the Washington Commanders in the area,” the mayor said. “We are close to highways and the Metro is right over there. In addition to the stadium, we can have a number of housing units and there will be space for retail establishments.”
While Bowser made it clear she wants the Commanders stadium in the city, she said it “will not be at any price.”