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Herb Miller Settles With D.C. In Ballpark District Suit

Developer Herbert Miller has settled his $40 million lawsuit against the District government over the failed plan to build two 13-story condominium towers just outside Nationals Park. Under the settlement, the city will pay Miller's Western Development $2 million and the company will drop its legal grievances, according to Miller's son Ben, who is now the company's president.

The settlement ends a thorny chapter in the development of the stadium near the Navy Yard and South Capitol Street SE. It was supposed to be another of developer Miller's city-changing projects to add to his legacy with Gallery Place and the Georgetown waterfront: two condo towers featuring shops and restaurants just outside the Nationals' stadium.

Instead, Miller's plan, which had the support of then-Mayor Anthony Williams, was shot down by D.C. Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi and the D.C. Council, which called it financially risky, and by the Lerner family that bought the team and wanted two four-story parking garages to be finished before the stadium opened.

Miller then sued, saying he had spent more than $5 million on his plans and that he had been improperly terminated. But after Mayor Adrian M. Fenty took over from Williams, Western Development felt pressure to settle or be frozen out of future projects with the city government. (It did not help that Herb Miller had supported Fenty's rival, Linda Cropp, in the 2006 mayor's race.)

As part of the agreement, Ben Miller said, the city will pay Western an additional $500,000 to get the company to dissolve its lease agreement for Franklin School, which had been planned for a renovation into a hotel but was later retained by the city for homeless services.

Ben Miller, 32, said he wanted to settle the suit because as the new company president he hopes to "start fresh" with the city and put any bad blood in the past.

"The whole reason we settled was to put this behind us," he said.

Click here for a list of charities that will get some of the settlement money, according to Western Development.

By David A Nakamura  |  July 7, 2008; 4:05 PM ET
Categories:  Nationals  
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