Surplus and Disposition Approved by Committee, Resolution Advances to Full Council

In their Tuesday session, the District Council’s Government Operations and Economic Development Committees voted unanimously to approve the surplus and disposition resolution for the 25-acre McMillan Sand Filtration Site.  Their approval now advances the resolution to a vote before the full council in an upcoming session.  “It is a world-class project and I’m looking forward to supporting it,” stated Councilman Kenyan McDuffie, Chairman of the Government Operation Committee and Ward 5 resident.  Mayor-elect Muriel Bowser also praised the development project, stating she is “pleased it is moving forward”.




Fiscal & Economic Benefits Confirmed


Fiscal and Econ Benefitsv2The impact of the New McMillan is far reaching; some elements are observable, like parks, open space and a master plan integrated into the fabric of the neighborhood, while others less visible, such as the long-term economic impacts and job creation continuing long after completion. These impacts have been well publicized – $1.2B in new tax revenues over 30 years, 3,000 new constructions jobs and 3,200 permanent jobs. What is the source of these estimates? Are they correct?


Part of the early entitlement process, VMP retained Green Door Advisors (“GDA”) to conduct a fiscal and economic impact analysis of the proposed redevelopment to the District over a 30-year period.  Publicized in a 2011 report, their analysis took account of all relevant District revenues and expenditures expected and incurred from redevelopment.


Changes to the development program resulting from the evolution of the master plan are well documented and have been highlighted by VMP over the past few months during zoning commission hearings. Has the evolution of the development program diminished the economic impact and job creation benefits?


Robert Charles Lesser & Co (“RCLCO”), a renowned expert in strategic real estate impact analysis, conducted a thorough peer review of the 2011 report to confirm three key points – is the GDA methodology sound, is the level of economic impact still valid and are job creation estimates still correct.


In their findings, available here for review, RCLCO confirms the methodology used in the original analysis and states, “changes to the development program would not have a material impact on the very positive results in the GDA study, and would probably result in an even more positive fiscal impact”.


Has the delay in construction lessened the number of jobs created? In their peer review, RCLCO finds, higher development costs from the 2011 estimates may lead to even more construction jobs than the original GDA estimate.


The plan for the New McMillan has evolved for the better since 2011, while the exceptional Job Creation, Fiscal & Economic Benefits to the District remains a key principle of the project.



VMP Submits Pre-hearing Statement to Mayor’s Agent

Concealed beneath a thin concrete slab covered with a layer of fill to yield the present day appearance of grassed plain, twenty sub terrain filter beds cover over 80% of the McMillan site. Constructed in 1903-04 of un-reinforced concrete, each bed or cell is approximately one acre in area. The floors of the filter beds are inverted groined arches that carry piers, with a slight batter or receding upward slope near the bottom. Spaced approximately 14’ in constant form, the piers support elliptical groined arches pierced by manholes to allow light from the surface.

Cell Collapse

The innate challenges of reuse resulting from their existing geometric form and structural deterioration, coupled with the engineering limitations of surface development absent significant alteration to their historic character, require 16 of the remaining 18 cells be demolished in order for the redevelopment of McMillan to proceed. In accordance with the District’s Historic Landmark and Historic District Protection Act, the Mayor’s Agent must conduct a hearing prior to the demolition of a historic landmark and in cases where the applicant proposes to construct a project of “special merit”.

Leading to this point, in October of 2013 the Historic Preservation Review Board or HPRB found the design for McMillan to, “represent an architecturally coordinated and cohesive approach that specifically relates to the character of the McMillan Site.” In reviewing the master plan, HPRB commended our preservation vision stating the master plan was, “developed to retain important character-defining features of the site sufficient to convey its historic characteristics.” Based on their review, HPRB recommended the project return for final review after approval by the Mayor’s Agent.

While DC’s Historic Protection Act provides for protection of landmarks and buildings in historic districts, the law neither requires nor contemplates retention of the status quo. Rather, through the review process, it seeks to ensure change is accomplished in an appropriate and compatible manner. Under the Act, the Mayor’s Agent may authorize the issuance of a permit to demolish or partially demolish a historic resource if found to be necessary in the public interest. With respect to historic landmarks, the purpose is both to retain and enhance historic landmarks by encouraging their adaptation for current use and to embolden their restoration. With respect to McMillan, the partial demolition of remaining cells will allow the creation of an extraordinary, high-quality mixed-use development that adaptively reuses one of the District’s most treasured historic engineering resources.

The Act defines “necessary in the public interest” to mean either consistent with the purposes of the preservation law, or “necessary to allow the construction of a project of special merit.” So what constitutes special merit? A project of special merit is defined as “a plan or building having significant benefits to the District of Columbia or to the community by virtue of exemplary architecture, specific features of land planning, or social or other benefits having a high priority for community services.”

park zoomDesigned by leading architects in the District, each building proposed for the new McMillan is unique in systematic layering and variation of façade elements, while cohesive in the employ of a consistent and limited palette of forms, geometries, rhythms, materials and colors that relates to the site’s historic resources. The design of the vertical structures is further elevated by a master plan that patterns uses based on the site’s tripartite organization, formed by the two historic service courts bisecting the site. Conceptually, the master plan preserves and reinterprets the history of the site, while proposing ideas that allow function in a contemporary context and the creation of distinctive mixed-use neighborhood.

Three new world-class healthcare facilities are the mainstay for significant job creation and positive economic development impacts on surrounding neighborhoods and the District as a whole. Redevelopment on the site will create demand for an estimated 3,000 construction related jobs; when complete, an additional 3,200 permanent jobs, the majority of which will highly sought after healthcare industry, will be available. VMP commits to a package of community benefits, including $1.2 million for the creation and furtherance of workforce development initiatives to prepare District residents for the job opportunities created by redevelopment. This level of financial commitment and job creation notably exceeds in both size and complexity similar efforts on other large District projects, further exemplifying the redevelopment’s meritorious impact on the community.

13085_072214_view_H8_screenThe new McMillan gives the community one of the most comprehensive affordable housing offerings of any recent District project. Within the for-sale row homes, 13 units are set aside for residents at 80% of AMI, with 9 units set aside for residents making 50% of AMI. Of the ~500 multi-family units, 110 are affordable, with 85 of these units set aside for senior residents making between 50% -60% of AMI. Organized around a 17,000 sf community center, an extensive network of public open space highlights existing historic elements, while providing opportunity for their adaptive reuse. These features of the project, along with the exemplary architecture and economic benefits, all of which have a high priority to the community, foster the goals of the preservation law and establish the special merit necessary for the issuance of the partial demolition permit.

The full context of our Mayor’s Agent Pre-hearing statement is available here.

VMP Publishes FINAL Historic Preservation Report

Pages from McMillan Park Report - FINAL 9.15.2014


EHT Traceries  was retained by VMP to provide research and historic preservation consulting services in pursuit of our approval for a PUD for the McMillan Site.  As part of their efforts, EHT authored a historic preservation report designed as a resource for discussions with the city and community about the appropriate treatment of historic resources, as well as the design of new construction on the site.  The report is a record of the information and guidance provided during this consultation period and is intended to achieve the following objectives:

  • PROVIDE A GUIDE to the extensive primary and secondary documentation that exists for the site through an extensive bibliography and appendices.
  • EXPLAIN THE HISTORIC SIGNIFICANCE of the McMillan Site. The report does not include a re-evaluation of the property’s significance, but instead relies on the evaluation of significance provided in 1989 landmark nomination form that was completed for the McMillan Park Reservoir Historic Landmark. The reports offers a framework for the evaluation of the historic integrity of the McMillan Site and the development of preservation recommendations for the McMillan Redevelopment Project based on the
    identified significance.
  • EVALUATE THE HISTORIC INTEGRITY of the McMillan Site. The historic integrity of the Landmark was evaluated as part of its local landmark nomination in 1989.  An updated evaluation of the integrity of the McMillan Site, as a distinct component of the Landmark, is necessary for the development of preservation recommendations for the McMillan Redevelopment Project.
  • PROVIDE RECOMMENDATIONS FOR PRESERVATION of the McMillan Site within the context of redevelopment. The recommendations are specific to the McMillan Site and are intended to inform a successful preservation strategy for a McMillan Redevelopment Project within the general parameters set by the city and VMP. The recommendations take into consideration the site’s significance and integrity and are based on the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties. General recommendations and resource-specific recommendations are included and will be incorporated into the site plan for the redevelopment as appropriate.
  • PROVIDE RECOMMENDATIONS FOR PRESERVATION MITIGATION for the McMillan Redevelopment Project. EHT Traceries is conscious of the various interests of the numerous stakeholders in the McMillan Redevelopment Project. To facilitate the future discussion of preservation within the context of other stakeholder interests, this report provides additional recommendations for the mitigation of the loss of historic fabric and integrity that may occur with development at the McMillan Site. These recommendations are intended to be taken into consideration by VMP and DCHPO and can be directly incorporated into the amenities package for the PUD and Mayor’s Agent submissions as appropriate.
  • GUIDE THE PRESERVATION-RELATED APPROVAL PROCESSES for the McMillan Redevelopment Project. Because the McMillan Site is part of the lager McMillan Park Reservoir Historic Landmark, any construction or demolition on the site is subject to a variety of preservation-related reviews on the federal and local level. This report seeks to outline these reviews to clarify the approval process for the project.

The full report is available for download here.

VMP Submits Revised Building Designs

In preparation for our upcoming hearing on September 29th and in response to questions raised at our last hearing, VMP provided additional information to the Zoning Commission on Monday. During the last hearing, the Commission requested additional information on, or restudy of, the height of the Healthcare Facility; the loading facilities for the multifamily/grocery store; proposed traffic mitigation measures; and additional information on the timing and scope of public benefits and amenities.

As detailed in the images below, revisions to the PUD include a reduction of the western wing building height of the Medical Office Building from 130 feet to 115 feet. To maintain the architectural aesthetic of the overall design, the clearance height of the projecting bay on the north and south facades of the east wing was raised, thereby reducing the size of the eastern building as well. To further sustain the design intent, the building peripheral was also adapted on all sides of the western and eastern wings, which is visible in the second image. The net effect of these changes is an overall reduction of 25,000 square feet of gross floor area.

Revision 2   Revision 1

With regards to the multifamily/grocery, the street level design of Evarts Street was further refined to ensure a safe and attractive experience for pedestrians. One curb cut along the street was eliminated, while combining the trash and service space for the residential and grocery store uses. The two relatively small changes resulted in significant enhancements to the street level elevation. First, new flexible space is now available at the eastern end of the building with new windows spanning approximately 55 feet of the ground floor to further activate the streetscape along Evarts Street. Second, the loading bay opening is now divided into two sections separated by a column, producing a more articulated rhythm to the ground floor façade. Both changes are illustrated in the renderings below.

13085_082014_view_H6e_screen   13085_082014_view_H9_screen

The full submittal is available for download.

WaPo Architecture Critic Roger K. Lewis recommends VMP Plan for the #NewMcMillan

McMillan plan combines preservation, urban design and inventive architecture

VMP Plan for the New McMillan“The fate of the McMillan Sand Filtration Plant has been the subject of heated controversy ever since the federal government closed the water purification facility in 1986 and sold the 25-acre site to the District of Columbia. During the years, dramatically differing opinions and ideas for transforming McMillan have led to multiple contrasting plans for the site.

But next month the destiny of the historically landmarked McMillan site may be determined and the disputes rendered moot. The D.C. Zoning Commission is reviewing the latest plan (, a well-conceived, pragmatic work of urban design and architecture.”

Read full article here.

Vision McMillan Partners Move Forward in Entitlement Process

HPRB’s procedural denial of Raze Application for Underground Sand Filtration Cells sets the stage for Mayor’s Agent Hearing.  In response to a raze application for sixteen of the underground sand filtration cells on the McMillan Sand Filtration Site by Vision McMillan Partners (VMP), the D.C. Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB), in a standard response to historic development proposals seeking a permit for demolition, responded by letter today recommending that a permit not be issued.

While the HPRB voted unanimously in October of this year to support VMP’s redevelopment plans, it may not consider whether a project is one of “special merit” and instead routinely finds that demolition of historic structures is inconsistent with the preservation law. The recommendation sets the stage for a hearing before the Mayor’s Agent, who will evaluate the project for special merit and determine if demolition is permissible.

“Vision McMillan Partners is confident that our proposed project and related demolition of some underground cells will be deemed justified in the public interest to allow for a project special merit that provides jobs, affordable housing, the city’s largest new park and other significant benefits to the city and the communities surrounding the Sand Filtration Site.” said Anne Corbett, VMP Project Director.

The HPRB’s unanimous endorsement of the conceptual design plan for the site’s redevelopment will help support the case as one of special merit.

Two for Two


You did it again! Supporters turned out in such great numbers for a second Zoning Hearing in a row! You stayed HOURS so you could present eloquent, thoughtful testimony to the Zoning Commission about this plan. The energy and dedication is humbling for our team and so, so appreciated.

One supporter said to me, “not only will the new McMillan site provide a much needed grocery store, retail and affordable housing, but it will allow me to walk through the fenced off areas to other parts of the community that were only accessible by car before.”  Watching supporters testify from Bloomingdale, Stronghold, Park View and other neighborhoods,  it was clear to me that we are doing just that – reconnecting the community around the site. While we have made it through two hearings, there are still TWO MORE to go. We need you as a committed supporter to show the commission that you stand with the VMP team and support this plan. Please click here to attend at least ONE of the FINAL TWO zoning hearings on May 8th and 13th.

We heard many of our supporters speak last night about why they support the VMP plan, and the benefit that they feel it will bring to the community. If you can not attend a hearing, the Zoning Commission should still hear from you. Please take 2 minutes and click here to write to the Commission and tell them why you Support a New McMillan.

We’ve made it this far together – farther than any other previous plan for the McMillan site – and only with your help and support will we make it to the finish line.

Thank you again for your continued support.

ALC signature

Anne Corbett
Vision McMillan Partners

Remaining Hearing dates and times:

May 8, 2014 (THIS THURSDAY) 6:00 p.m. – Healthcare Facility (Parcel 1)

May 13, 2014 (Tuesday) 6:00 p.m. – Continuation of Hearing #1, ANC and Personal Testimony

All PUD hearings will be at held at:
Jerrily R. Kress Memorial Hearing Room
441 4th Street, N.W., Suite 220-South
Washington, D.C. 20001

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