Wardman v. District of Columbia, et al

DC Convention Center Hotel Case Opinion

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Private developer sued the District of Columbia alleging that the City Council exceeded its legislative authority pursuant to the D.C. Home Rule Act in exempting a substantial public-private development project from the city’s procurement laws. Developer argued that the Mayor violated the “public credit clause” of the Home Rule Act (which expressly prohibits enacting legislation that "lends the public credit for support of any private undertaking") in granting a private corporation generous concessions to facilitate the construction of a Convention Center Hotel. Concessions included, among other things, the city contributing approximately 130 million dollars to the project after the issuance of tax increment financed bonds, granting the corporation over 20 million dollars, leasing city-owned land to the corporation for 99 years and subordinating the city’s debt and lease payments to the project’s ability to generate a profit. The concessions negotiated by the Mayor were later codified through separate acts of legislation (referred to as the “Hotel Acts). Superior Court Associate Judge Natalia M. Combs Greene ruled that (1) the City Council had authority to exempt the project from the city’s procurement laws as since it had authority to create procurement laws; (2) the city’s concessions did constitution a lending of the public credit; and (3)the project was not a private undertaking, however, within the meaning of the Home Rule Act where, among other things, the hotel augmented an existing public asset (the Convention Center), supported the City Council’s effort to create jobs and foster economic development. Accordingly, the Court granted in part defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment and granted in part defendants’ Motion to Dismiss, disposing of the case.

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Reference Info:Decision | State, D.C. Circuit, D.C. | United States


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