Washington Business Journal
Parties involved in the $720 million McMillan Sand site redevelopment have different opinions on what happens next after the D.C. Court of Appeals issued a ruling that could affect its future. The question is, just how much of an impact?
On Thursday, the appeals court panel vacated the D.C. Zoning Commission’s approval and the mayor’s agent’s two orders that allowed Vision McMillan Partners' project — approved for nearly 1 million square feet of medical office space, 531 apartments, 134 townhouses, a 52,000-square-foot Harris Teeter, along with a park and community center — to move forward.
However, the court decision did not say work could not continue. It sent the case back to the city for further proceedings.
The office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development said it expects to address the issues with a sense of urgency at a zoning hearing in early 2017. And while there was a ceremonial groundbreaking at the site at Michigan Avenue and North Capitol Streets NW on Wednesday, D.C.'s infrastructure and historical preservation work was not expected to immediately begin.
The court ruling, in response to a lawsuit by Friends of McMillan Park, agreed that the zoning commission failed to adequately address a number of claimed "adverse impacts" McMillan would bring. Among them: "environmental problems, destabilization of land values and displacement of neighboring residents, and increased demand for essential public services."
Work most likely cannot begin on the site until the issue is settled, a D.C.-based land use attorney said. Since the court asked for an explanation on the zoning commission's thinking, Vision McMillan Partners could ask for a new zoning commission hearing, or the zoning commission could quickly issue its own response to the ruling. Then that could be appealed by opponents again and the process could continue. It's anyone's guess how much of delay that will cause, and how much that will set the project back.