Monday, June 04, 2012

Examiner: "McMillan redevelopment creating firestorm of opposition"

See this article from the Washington Examiner:

By Liz Farmer, Examiner Staff Writer
June 03, 2012 -- 8:00 PM

One of the District`s premier development sites sits on 25 acres less than three miles north of the Capitol, remaining unused for more than two decades. There`s a reason for that.

``McMillan represents one of the most challenging sites imaginable to both preserve and adapt for current use,`` says a recent Historic Preservation Review Board report on the old sand filtration site adjacent to the McMillan Reservoir in Northwest D.C.

The report goes on to tick off the many characteristics that make the site unattractive to developers: deteriorated historic structures, underground cells that have little practical reuse options, ``enormous`` infrastructure costs and ``the inherent difficulty of inserting any development into a site that is characterized by its park-like open quality.``

Since the District purchased the site from the federal government in 1987, several proposals have made their way before the community and each one has been batted back by those who want a restored park. The site has been closed to the public since the 1940s.

The latest proposal from a partnership of three developers, despite support from the city, is hitting those same old roadblocks.

All of the neighborhood associations directly adjacent to the site, located just west of North Capitol Street between Michigan Avenue and Channing Street, are staunchly opposed to the current plan, which is expected to go before the preservation board next month. The proposal includes mixed-use office and apartment buildings with ground-floor retail to the north and single-family townhouses to the south.


A four-acre park is in the center ,where two of the 20 brick sand filtration structures would be preserved. An additional plaza and brick terraced garden area are to the north.

``Yes, there`s a park, but it`s inside a U-shaped group of buildings -- it`s going to feel like you`re invading someone`s private space,`` said Kirby Vining, a nearby resident.

At-large D.C. Councilman Phil Mendelson has asked the preservation board to reject the proposal because developers would ``demolish too much of the site, including structural resources, landscape resources, and historic vistas.``

But while the board staff lament the loss of the historic structures that developers have determined are too deteriorated to salvage, their report is in favor of the plan and notes compromises must be made with difficult sites.

Not all residents are fighting for more park space. Malcolm Kenton, who is also a contributor and editor for the Greater Greater Washington blog, said he thinks the development team has blended green space while making the project economically viable.

``You have to look at the broader regional perspective,`` Kenton said. ``This region is going to continue to grow whether we like it or not, so let`s put more of that growth closer to the center of the city.``


TheCommiss said...

Prediction Phil Mendelson will support the plan once he has a presentation from the team on the plan!

Todd said...

well, another issue here that nobody is mentioning is crime. Spend some time on and you'll soon realize that, despite what you thought, Bloomingdale has become a relative oasis in a sea of robberies, burglaries, assaults that cluster around U street, Georgia, Columbia Heights. A large retail development like this one is bound to attract additional criminal elements to the periphery of the development which is in fact our neighborhood. Inevitably crime in the neighborhood will rise.
The other thing nobody is talking about is the impact on local businesses. We have a wonderful set of local businesses in Bloomingdale that are just getting off the ground. Do they really need the competition of national chains or will that make their own positions weaker. I actually like the direction that Bloomingdale is currently headed: small local businesses, local owners, improving crime. Will this development impact those things? Just look at the experience of Columbia's an outdoor mall now...where did all the local businesses go? I have a hard time thinking that it will not be the same for McMillan

Paul Kirk said...

Does the "presentation" come with an envelope like the one they gave Harry Thomas, Jr.?

DearCommiss, what did EYA give you that had you chest-bumping Robert Brannum after the mediocre ANC vote?

TheCommiss said...

@Paul Kirk unlike you and many in the community...I have never taken anything from campaign contributions nor for any other reason...why because frankly I can afford not to and I have morals, growing up poor teaches you valuable ethics! What the plan does is provides many thing to many groups in DC and it's balanced. What you and others want is selfish and the tactics you are using is even worse. The community needs this development to provide park space/public space, senior and affordable housing, and retail and commercial to support the development and the surrounding community with much needed amenities.

Paul Kirk said...

So, you are saying you have never spoken to the developer about housing opportunities at McMillan Park?

Doesn't this immediate area have enough low-income housing? Why not build more low-income housing on Capitol Hill, or Georgetown or upper Northwest? Why would anyone support encircling Bloomingdale with high-rise low-income housing, unless, like you, this is how you make your money?

TheCommiss said...

Mr Krik,

Don't even go there and attempt to shade the topic. Speaking to someone and taking money or something of value is very different!

I have spoken to many parties involved in the development of McMillan including the developer, DMPED staff, OPM staff, Historical Preservationists both locally and nationally, architects, and mostly residents.

Furthermore, you believe that affordable housing is low income public housing, what little you know about this topic is apparent. Have you listen to one word I have ever spoken about the topic, because if you did you would realize that you most likely are considered eligible for affordable housing. This is development is not PUBLIC's affordable and affordable housing limits are based on family size and area median income which for DC is $106,100. Therefore a family of 4 making 67,600 qualifies for affordable housing. A single person in DC making $47,350 qualifies.

So Mr Kirk let's take a good look at our neighbors and see where they fall on this chart, and I bet that you will find that a good percentage of our current neighbors would qualify based on these figures. So please stop the misinformation that you and your fringe group are attempting to put out in the public domain as the truth, because you are WRONG!

Furthermore, yes I make my living now working for HUD. Mind you I do so for the mission of HUD and not the money. I took a huge cut in pay over 40% from the financial services sector to do the good work of the Obama Administration and to help the 93% of American who rely on HUD for housing and housing related issues. You are included in those people, unless that is you are so wealthy that you didn't need a mortgage to buy the house you might own.

Mr. Kirk I ask that you stick to the facts and not hyperbole.