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.

Latest News

On November 22nd, Vision McMillan Partners and the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development jointly filed a Planned Unit Development– or PUD– application to the DC Zoning Commission.  The application included both a “Stage One” Master Plan and a “Consolidated Package” depicting the buildings planned for the phase one.  We will keep you updated on the public schedule moving forward, including hearings and meetings.  In the meantime, you can click here to view the application.  Simply click “Search by Applicant/Case Name” and enter “McMillan” as the search term.

Click here to view the Washington Business Journal’s recent coverage of the PUD application.

Take a minute to visit VMP on our new Facebook Page and “like” us to receive news and information via Facebook. We’ll be using the page to solicit your feedback on things like public art and park design and will keep you up-to-date on upcoming hearings, meetings and opportunities to engage in the process.

We look forward to seeing you on Facebook!

Tania Jackson

Neighborhood Outreach Coordinator


A Neighbor’s Opinion of the New McMillan

Here’s an excerpt of an email sent by a resident of the area, writing to the Historic Preservation Review Board.

I am writing to express my support of the McMillan Site Development Project.  I am a resident of the Ward 5, Eckington neighborhood and live 6 blocks from the future site.  Some of my reasoning is detailed below:

  1. The McMillan Development DOES respect and preserve the architectural and historical integrity of the prior Sand Filtration Site.
  • Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. is the landscape architect who envisioned this beautiful property.  As a lover or American History, I am familiar with his work.  As an Architecture graduate from the University of Florida, I studied his projects extensively, including work at Central Park in New York.  The homage by the Architect via preservation of a portion of the underground caverns and ALL of the above-ground silos is a great nod to an American legend.  Climbing vegetation and board-treated cement are features developed to address the site’s unique characteristics.
  • A fully-preserved site means no development.  The key is finding balance, which I believe Vision McMillan Partners has achieved.  

2.  What use does undeveloped land serve?

  • Bloomingdale, Eckington and Brookland are all what DC residents would consider “transitional” areas.  There has been tremendous revitalization , especially in the last 5 years.  I purchased my home on Rhode Island Ave NE with the anticipation that the neighborhood’s growth would continue.  I planned on it.  This development is a MAJOR step toward changing the DC social landscape.  The medical, professional, residential and recreational opportunities this development provides are tremendous.  Who wouldn’t enjoy a brand-new rec center?!  This development also provides the city with new income sources and an insurgence of exciting attractions in a largely residential area.
  • I am concerned that if we focus on the “what if,” we will limit our neighborhood’s potential.  Dismissing a project is easy . . . so is the “norm.” I challenge each of you to think outside of the box, envisioning the great capacity a site like McMillan has for supporting DC’s bright future.  DC can be where you work AND live.  You can be a single professional or raise a family, all safely.

I KNOW we can make this happen!  I am happy to assist in any way possible in support of this effort.




Approvals Progress on Halloween!

Yesterday the Historic Preservation Review Board voted unanimously to accept the Historic Preservation Office’s staff report, which recommended accepting the Master Plan and building design concepts, which moves the project forward to the Mayor’s Agent and the Zoning Commission.  We’ve been working long and hard on this project, refining the vision to reflect both community wants and desires, and HPRB’s recommendations so that McMillan will be a special place for everyone to enjoy.

Thank you to all of the community members and interested people who came to HPRB to testify today.  Thank you to all of you who have provided input and feedback; we truly appreciate your desire to make McMillan great.

If you haven’t seen it, now is a good time to check out our Vision Video, which made its debut today at HPRB.  And for more detailed information on the building designs, come to our community open house at St. George’s Episcopal Church on Saturday, November 16th anytime between 10AM and 1PM.

See you soon,

Tania Jackson

Neighborhood Outreach Coordinator

We’re Live!

Good Morning!
We have now officially rolled out the remixed, restyled and renewed EnvisionMcMillan.com.  The new site is designed to give a better picture of what is planned, and provide opportunity for feedback and interaction.   If you want to access reports, drawings and all of our information it’s all organized on the Resources page. Check out the Twitter timeline and follow us @VisionMcMillan.  Look for more updates and images but most of all . . .
We are also debuting our Vision Video, which will be shown at today’s HPRB hearing, as well!  The video gives a more cohesive view of the entire site design, with fly throughs that show the park, Olmsted walk, service corridors, and buildings in context, so that you can see how McMillan will look when it’s built.
Please take the time to look around here.  If you experience any glitches, feel free to email me at mcmsalon@gmail.com.  Thanks to all who took the time to tweet or email us with questions– we try to respond and repair as quickly as possible.
Tania Jackson
Neighborhood Outreach Coordinator


Fabulous Report From HPO!

Earlier this month, VMP submitted revised plans for McMillan that address the remaining concerns raised by the Historic Preservation Review Board at the June hearing.  The Historic Preservation Officer has posted their report on the new designs and it’s pretty fabulous news.
“(T)he latest version of the master plan represents a significant improvement over previous versions and now retains the significant above-grade topographical, architectural and engineering features that were identified by the Board as the most important.”
“The revised master plan would retain significant character-defining features of the landmark sufficient to convey its historic character.”
The report recommends, specifically, that the Board “find the concept designs to represent an architecturally coordinated and cohesive approach that specifically relates to the character of the McMillan site.”
If you would like to come support the project at the hearing, please let me know– email me at mcmsalon@gmail.com.  We’d love to see you at HPRB, but if you miss that, please be sure to join us at the Open House on November 16th.
Thanks for your continued support,
Tania Jackson
Neighborhood Outreach Coordinator
Envision McMillan

New HPRB Plans Submitted

Hello McMillan Friends,I would like to share a draft of our latest submission to the Historic Preservation Review Board.  We’ve spent most of the summer addressing the issues raised by the Board in July.  As you may recall, the Board accepted our Master Plan Guidelines for the site, but asked us to address four key issues — the Tripartite organization, the edge conditions, the architectural cohesion and the North Service Court design.

To that end, you’ll see new layouts and building designs, bigger setbacks with a restored Olmsted Walk around the entire site, a reduced color palette and Master Plan that gives a greater sense of cohesion by sticking to one color palette, and coordinated storefront designs to better amplify the Historic Assets in the North Service Court.

We have requested a hearing by HPRB at their October meeting, and will be sharing it in community via the MAG and ANC 5E.  We look forward to seeing you at these meetings and hope you’ll take the time to look at these new designs.

Tania Jackson
Neighborhood Outreach Coordinator
Vision McMillan Partners

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