Council members are pondering whether to rename the portion of South Capitol Street between N Street and Potomac Avenue “Taxation Without Representation Street,” a reminder that the District has no voting member in Congress. The Nationals are headquartered at 41,000-seat Nationals Park at 1500 South Capitol St. SE.
Council Chairman Vincent Gray held a public hearing Monday on the legislation, which unlike other symbolic road name designations would actually change the address of all buildings along that three-block stretch of South Capitol. Gray said he would have the bill on the council’s agenda for a vote by next week.
“What we want is for that to be the stadium’s address,” said Ward 6 Councilman Tommy Wells, who counts the Nationals as his constituent. “We want people to have to write it.”
Ethan Gewolb with McLean-based Camden Development told the council in written testimony that the name change should be limited to the east side of South Capitol — the stadium side — “if at all.” Camden is preparing to build a 276-unit apartment building at 1345 S. Capitol St. SW, he said, and the name change will “negatively impact the residents of our building,” cause “unnecessary confusion” and compromise “the spirit” of the gateway street.
“The city has gone to great lengths to revitalize South Capitol Street,” according to Gewolb’s testimony. “Millions of dollars in both public and private money is being spent to transform a blighted area into a lively, cheerful one. Why rename part of the street that is meant to be a gateway to the Capitol?”
Voting-rights advocates weren’t swayed. Nationals Park, said D.C. Shadow Rep. Mike Panetta, is the “next-best place” to rename — second to the very off-limits 1600 block of Pennsylvania Avenue.
“We got our representation in the National League, and now we have to get our representation in the national legislature,” D.C. Shadow Sen. Paul Strauss told the council.
The council adopted legislation earlier this year requiring the installation of an electronic sign near the ballpark that counts up the amount of federal taxes paid by D.C. residents, according to Gray. The street renaming, Gray said, “is another step in getting the maximum impact out of this.”
But University of Maryland professor Michael Friedman pointed out that the vast majority of Nationals Park visitors travel to the game via Metro, which lets out on the other side of the ballpark from South Capitol. Most fans, he said, will never see the street signs.
A Nationals spokeswoman declined comment.