Historic Preservation Review Board Awards the Office of Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development & Vision McMillan Partners Conceptual Design Approval on McMillan Redevelopment Plan


Follow up to our discussion earlier in teh week. From a press release:

“The Historic Preservation Review Board yesterday, after a hearing to review revisions to Vision McMillan Partner’s Plan for the McMillan Sand Filtration Site, voted unanimously to support advancement of the project. Board members were overwhelmingly positive in their responses to this most recent round of revisions, calling the plan a “very, very thoughtful and serious response to what we established,” (Maria Casarella) and referring to collaboration on the project as “very tangible and commendable.” (Rauzia Ally) The Vision McMillan Partners development team includes Trammell Crow Company, EYA and Jair Lynch Development Partners.

Anne Corbett, Project Director with Vision McMillan Partners said after the hearing: “This is a significant moment in our journey to create a unique place that honors this site’s rich history and creates opportunity and excitement for local residents. This is far from over, but our team will continue to work tirelessly with the community and the HPRB to deliver something that truly reflects the desires of surrounding communities. We are thrilled with the HPRB’s decision today and very thankful for all of the community members who came to show their support today.”

A number of local community members and leaders attended to record their support for the project.

Among them, ANC5E09 Commissioner Dianne Barnes, who testified: The proposed development pays homage to the historic significance of the industrial site while providing this community with a beautiful new and greatly needed place to shop, play, work and live. I can speak on behalf of the overwhelming majority of residents living within the immediate vicinity of the decayed site when I say that we are looking forward to the very positive impacts of this development. Many may not voice their opinions to you but they are voicing it to me. “

Rashida Brown, who lives adjacent to the site also testified that “The innovative park space and its special features would breathe life into the McMillan site, which has remained stagnant for years and unfortunately, continues to be underutilized. The park, along with the community center, playgrounds, healing garden and water features complement the plan’s intent for historic preservation of the silos and site in general. “

Today’s hearing was preceded by a favorable report from Historic Preservation Office staff, which called the revised concepts: “Dramatically improved, reflecting the high level of quality, cohesiveness and distinctiveness that have been sought by the Board . . . it looks like a destination you would want to seek out to experience its distinct sense of place; one that includes equally interesting historic and new features balanced and blended compatibly together.”

12 Comment

  • The loopholes that the Friends of McMillan are hoping to take advantage of are getting smaller and less numerous. I suspect we’ll be hearing the next strategy out of them soon. However, I hope that the HPRB decision will convince them to become a force for positive change and not just a chorus of “NO!”. Despite their recent attempts to actually appear inclusive, the loudest voices are still spouting pie-in-the-sky garbage. Quietly make them go away and you might start winning the support of neighbors who would like this development to move forward but ALSO want to see some improvement in the design (better with the full perimeter walkway, but still needs work). We’re not signing our name to a group that spouts nonsense and resorts to name calling, though.

  • Amazing for what passes as thoughtful development in Washington DC.

    And as others have said, let’s be clear that nobody would even have this park had FOM and others not advocated vigorously for the past 3 years attending every community meeting, HPRB hearing, council meeting..and writing letters and collecting signatures … on and on So quit your whining about FOM from your armchairs you sad sops…anything you get out of this is due to FOM and other community advocates.

    And I’m not even an FOM member.

    • And let’s be clear that FoM are not the ONLY voice advocating to improve the plans for this site. Do you think that without this group the HPRB would have just said “OK!” to the first draft of the plans? No. In fact their comments would probably have evolved in very much the same way. It’s not ” FoM or nothing!”. You can distance yourself from their rhetoric and still be a force pushing for continued improvement in the face of the developers plans. My point is that FoM could be so much MORE if they would just cut off the crazies and quit putting their names to the some of the bullsh*t screeds that are sent around. That is all.

      • Well in the end they were a central force. And i did mention “others” (including me). And I think FOM are a pretty diverse group….not only the ranters. They are an open membership org and they accept anybody that wants to oppose the development. What are they going to do–kick people out?? I don’t think that I’ve heard one single point put forward that doesn’t have some merit to it. Factually what they say is mostly true. The form is sometimes not the most diplomatic and the tone is sometimes off-putting probably to their own detriment. I agree. But people like Hugh and John and Kirby have been at the forefront of this thing and they are well spoken. They have pushed forward long after other people quite. So I support them. I wish the HPRB had just a little more patience to make the other 2/3 of the site as nice as the park. In the end, FOM and the community advocates have scored a major victory. They were able to get 1/3 of this site allocated as a community park. They were able to get a community center–they were able to get the Olmsted walk retained. So hats off to FOM. I think that in the end, they were effective.

        • Todd, what an obtuse position to take. You seem smarter than that. Nothing changed because of the Fear of Modernity group: the only reason that the park on the southern part of the site was expanded was to accommodate the dc water project. Now the Fear of Modernity group is threatening legal action through the court system? Sad. I suggest that they get over their loss and move on. The rest of us are looking towards a bright future for our neighborhood.

          • Actually, i think you’d be surprised at the impact that they had. Hugh and John were central on the inside to get the DC water solution presented to the city council and acted upon. They were both at the city council quite a bit to push that initiative thru. I’m wondering how close you were to the ground…because if you don’t think FOM had a stake in the DC water thing that, as you point out, resulted in the park, then i think you are really mistaken. I think you need to find out how this whole thing actually went down. Also in a conversation with Hugh about a year ago, Hugh told me that what FOM really wanted was at least a 1/3 park for the site. I think that this shows that they are also pretty pragmatic, but they also know that the more pressure the better in terms of quality for the site.

          • Also, i think that you forget that both John and Hugh were our neighborhood ANC commissioners and if you think they don’t understand how it works on the inside, then i think that is naive. Also …obtuse? What is obtuse about putting pressure on developers to make a site the very best it can be? I see nothing obtuse at all in that. I”m at a loss to see how people who sat on the sidelines for the past 3 years can call the ones at the meetings, writing the letters and at the council obtuse. I think an obtuse position is to sit on your hands and think that private developers are going to act in your best interest. Look at iteration 1 of this site and then look at iteration 5. You think that neighborhood activism did nothing? That’s pretty demonstrably wrong.

  • This is bullshit

    • Todd, are you saying that the Fear of Modernity actively lobbied for the sight to by used as a sewer, destroying two cells in the process, so as to manipulate the developers into making the entirety of the bottom of the site a park? If that’s the case, well, that’s 1) internally inconsistent with their stated goals, and 2) bad. Why would a group that claims to advocate for preservation of a historic site secretly advance a plan that destroys part of it?

      It’s nice to think of the Fear of Modernity as some sort of highly strategic strike team fighting for the best deal possible with the current developers, but it seems pretty clear that this is not the case.

      At the same time there’s no need for a post-mortem on the Fear of Modernity and what they meant, etc. Would you oppose any step by the Fear of Modernity to sue the VMP and the city to stop the development?

  • I’m just telling you what i know for sure. You can believe what you want. But clearly you haven’t been around Bloomingdale long if you haven’t see what John Salatti has done for this community in the past 10 years. You’re missing the point: FOM isn’t a completely homogenous group so much as it was a coalition of people who didn’t like what they saw from VMP. And, despite what you think, the vast majority didn’t just want a park on that site. Or at least most of them didn’t. What the hell are you going to do with a 25 acre square field??? The fundamental idea was to bring pressure to bear to make the development (they did want to open up the competition to others and i agree) the best it could be. Believe what you want… hopefully they’ll keep up the pressure in whatever way is necessary to make this thing world class.

  • Bloomingdale ANC conducted a door to door survey about a year ago and over 80% of the people who responded wanted Mcmillan to be 50% or more park. There is also a great demand to preserve the underground cells and use them for retail spaces such as art galleries, restaurants, grocers, the list is endless. Friends of McMillan has been promoting alternative developments, so how anyone can claim they are promoting no development is beyond me. It is amazing how much misinformation is being consistantly represented by the developers. I wonder why? Oh, wait, it’s about the money.

  • I think it needs to be cleared up that the HPRB has not approved any plans. Rather, the HPRB actions state:

    The Board: (A) Determined that the proposal will result in substantial demolition, as defined in the preservation regulations, and therefore inconsistent with the purposes of the Historic Landmark and Historic District Protection Act; (B) Found the revised master plan has been developed to retain important character-defining features of the site sufficient to convey its historic characteristics; (C) Found the revised concept designs to represent an architecturally coordinated and cohesive approach that specifically relates to the character of the McMillan site; and (D) Asked that the project return for final review after approval by the
    Zoning Commission and Mayor’s Agent.

    What this means is simply that they chose to agree with the Historic Preservation Office recommendations. There was no ‘approval’ of the master plans. I suspect this is part of the reason for recommendations (D) which requires that the project return to the HPRB for final review following review by the Zoning Commission and Mayor’s Agent.

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