WASHINGTON (AP) _ The District of Columbia broke ground Friday on a $685 million downtown convention center as part of the economic revival of the nation’s capital.
``It’s taken us over five years to get here, and hundreds of meetings,″ said Terence Golden, chairman of the board of the Washington Convention Center Authority. But in three years, the 2.3 million-square-foot facility at Mount Vernon Square, on L Street between 8th and 9th streets, will be a beautiful addition to one of Washington’s oldest neighborhoods, said Golden.
The project will transform a parking lot in a rundown part of Northwest Washington into a huge concrete, glass, and steel structure that is expected to produce 10,000 new permanent jobs.
Local politicians bathed in the glow of what Mayor Marion Barry said would be a shining jewel of his legacy.
``After we built the first convention center, it was clear that we’d need an expansion, and we couldn’t add to the old convention center,″ said Barry, who leaves office in January after serving as the district’s mayor for 16 of the past 20 years.
The new convention center is the latest in a string of projects that have changed the face of the neighborhood on the edge of downtown Washington. ``The city is no longer on the way down,″ said Abe Pollin, owner of the Washington Capitals, Wizards, and Mystics. Pollin’s successful partnership with the city led to construction of the MCI Center last year.