Housing Complex

McMillan Gets Rolling Again With Studies

Plan for a public amphitheater. (Vision McMillan partners)

Plan for a public amphitheater. (Vision McMillan partners)

Hidden in the mayor's reprogramming of money from the Kenilworth Recreation Center to Hill East–which Councilmember Yvette Alexander held up to the last moment–was a little-noticed line item: Funding for traffic and historic preservation studies at the McMillan Sand filtration plant, which has been stalled for about half a year now. Today, Michael Neibauer reports that developer EYA has re-started a conversation with the city about finding the $50-60 million needed just for planning and infrastructure at the dormant site, with the actual building of a mixed-use campus costing untold millions more. Zoning and Historic Preservation reviews could begin as soon as the end of this year.

Councilmember Harry Thomas is squarely behind the developer's plans, unveiled in late 2008. But there's been significant grumbling in the community both over the process of awarding the site to EYA and Jair Lynch–the McMillan Park Committee sued in March for documents related to the disposition, which they say was secretive–as well as the high degree of density proposed for the site. In an interview with WPFW last month, local activist Tony Norman argued that it should be made into a tourist attraction recognizing the history of the area. Chatting with Housing Complex a couple months ago, local ANC 5C Commissioner John Salatti said there could at least be significantly more park space, or at least some kind of public amenity, like a library or recreation center.

"The interests of this community should not be sold out so that the developer can make every single stinking dollar out of it," said Salatti (who has been campaigning early–yard signs, fundraisers and all–to keep his seat against a possible challenge by Harry Thomas right-hand-woman Vickie Leonard).

The process for determining what to do with McMillan seems even more contentious today, when compared to the at least formally open process underway to repurpose the Walter Reed site for public use–if the city does that one right, it's a way around the McMillan-type acrimony that consumes so much of a community's time and energy.

  • The Commish

    There have been many open public meetings for input into McMillan over the past few years along with several other public vetting sessions about the site over the past 30 years. The McMillan “acrimony” doesn’t really exist! It is only a minority in the community who are using every available media outlet to draw attention to their cause without regard to what the people really want on the site.
    Instead of helping to shape the site, they are acting as the obstructionists, attempting to halt all processes in the name of being conservationists. A balance is needed which the plan put forth is very balanced with open/public space, housing and retail/commercial uses. These obstructionists have even suggested that the city rebid the project even though it went out for an RFP, because they don't like what is purposed They have put together with the help of a professor from CUA a plan for the site. However what they don’t tell you is that the plan has no economic viability at all. Thus confusing the public about what can really be done with the site, and introducing pie in the sky uses on the site. If you can't get financing for a project you can't say you have a better plan!

  • 2 bit

    commish,
    do you have numbers to back up your statement,
    "It is only a minority in the community who are using every available media outlet to draw attention to their cause without regard to what the people really want on the site"?

  • Channing Street resident

    I don't know of anyone who believes that "pre-selecting" those who gave campaign contributions to Harry Thomas was a fair process. Nor do I know of anyone who thinks the latest plan from the Bethesda-based developer benefits the community nearly as much as the Bethesda-based developers and the politicians they've already paid.

    Is it too much to ask that development of this 25 acres in the heart of the nation's capitol be handled by adults in a fair manner? Maybe we should change the name of DC's Office of Planning to the Office of Watching Things Happen.

  • The Commish

    @Channing Street Resident--do you have those facts. I believe you have bad information. There was an RFP in which VMP was choosen. As for your other statements they are quite out of the realm of the truth!

  • The Commish

    @2 bit-- Yes I do! I have spoken to many people in this community who are supporting the multi-use developmetn of the site.

  • North Capitol St resident

    Dear "The Commish",

    I guess this is Barrie Baneker. You call yourself "The Commish"?

    I guess this is what you do instead of serving your constituents by, say, leading/assisting/participating in Safety Walks led by John Salatti. By "this" I mean that you continue to be a shill for the Bethesda-based developer who wants to eliminate the skyline for Stronghold residents who will have to stand in their yards looking up to see the sky, and will certainly miss the beautiful sunsets we now enjoy. Harry Thomas was caught taking bribes from the Bethesda developer http://www.brooklandheartbeat.org/may09_eya.html, would you tell us what EYA has given to you to take their side against your constituents?

  • http://DCNATIVE DCNATIVE

    Any progress with the planned development?
    I think the latest plans to include a central park, amphitheater, jogging/biking trail along the perimeter and restriciting height of the planned additional rowhouses on Channing to not exceed the height of the current homes on Channing is great. I can also understand asking for space to include basketball courts/community center. Developing this land to include retail, office, and medical offices as well as the aforementioned community ammenities will be great for the land values and the overall growth of the surrounding community. This area of N.E. could use the increased economic growth as well as improvements in the walkability of the area. I'm all for this development and hope it happens ASAP!

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