Beveridge & Diamond

Verizon Center

Large Downtown Arena Construction Following Detailed Historic Resources Consultation

On behalf of the Washington, D.C. Sports Commission, Beveridge & Diamond, P.C. took the lead in supervising the complex EIS and Section 106 consultation process for the Verizon Center (formerly the MCI Center). We helped conclude these administrative procedures on time and in such a comprehensive fashion that this large, controversial project was built without litigation challenging the agency's environmental or historic review decisions.

In the opinion of many community and government leaders, the rebirth of the District of Columbia's central business district can be traced to development of the Verizon Center, a modern, multipurpose sports and entertainment facility. Development of the 20,000-seat arena triggered multiple local and federal environmental and historic reviews by numerous government agencies with overlapping jurisdiction. Beveridge & Diamond played a key role on the development team as lead environmental counsel. We enabled our client, the D.C. Sports Commission, to complete successfully all requisite analyses on a strict schedule.

Because approval for development of the Verizon Center would be granted by the National Capital Planning Commission, our client had to prepare an environmental impact statement under NEPA. In addition, the site for the proposed arena was in an urban neighborhood with many significant cultural and historic resources, mandating compliance with the National Historic Preservation Act. These procedures can be cumbersome and controversial, as they mandate the participation of affected community groups, as well as advocates for historic preservation. The District boasts several active and respected historic and cultural organizations, all of which had strong opinions about the proposed arena.

Beveridge & Diamond took the lead in working with the consultants who prepared the environmental impact statement and who prepared the analysis of the proposed arena's potential impact on cultural and historic resources. One the main issues centered on how the proposed arena would fit within the historic L'Enfant Plan for the District. We were responsible for coordinating the Section 106 consultation process and for drafting a complex Memorandum of Agreement that successfully concluded the process. The MOA was widely praised as a fair and comprehensive agreement. Moreover, the mitigation measures negotiated helped to create a project that not only "fits" in the urban landscape, but has sparked additional positive development in and around the Gallery Place and Chinatown neighborhoods of the District of Columbia. As a result of the comprehensive environmental and historic reviews that we helped organize, construction of the arena was completed as planned and without litigation.