McMillan: Fact Vs. Fiction




Fact v. Fiction


  • VMP’s plan creates three parks, including an expansive 6.25-acre central park with a community center and pool. If you add in the South Service Court and other public gathering places, there will be a total of 12 acres of new, public, open and green space. Specifically, of the 3½ block site, the majority – almost 2 blocks – will be open and green space distributed throughout the site.
  •  World-renowned landscape architects Nelson Byrd Woltz will design the public green space. They are famous for their work with urban parks, have garnered over 80 national and regional awards and have been featured in many national and international publications. This community will soon have one of the largest and best-designed parks not only in the District, but also in the region and in the country.
  •  While there was once a small park on the federal side of the McMillan site (near the reservoir, on the west side of First Street), the McMillan land that VMP is redeveloping was never a park. Historically, it was a working industrial site with manholes dotting the landscape every few feet, providing access for workers to the underground cells. In order to deliver water to the city, the site was in use all day and night, cleaning and pumping water.
  •  When the McMillan Sand Filtration Plant first opened, Olmsted, Jr. was commissioned to design a walking path around it that would offer residents a view without disturbing the daily work of the site.  This Olmsted Walk is being restored as part of the plan and will surround the entire redevelopment, connecting the parks and open spaces, providing engaging access and offering tremendous views of both the site and surrounding landmarks.  Every step of the walk will be publicly accessible and maintained. Finally, the fences on the site will be down, and there will be a park for residents to use and enjoy.
  • The very foundation of the VMP plan is a $22 million preservation program that will create exemplary design compatible with this historic landmark.
  •  The majority of the above grade structures will be preserved.  Every silo, every regulator house, every washer and every basin will be preserved and the historic courts will be maintained with special pavers.
  •  While the plan includes repurposing of underground cells, it is not feasible to place grocery retail inside the chambers or use the underground cells for foundation. Not only have retailers expressed opposition to the idea of an underground location here from a sales perspective, but the cost of making the cells safe enough for this type of use alone would make rental rates prohibitive for community and retail uses alike.
  •  Two underground cells (each the size of a football field) will be preserved, and the current plan includes repurposing Cell 14 for retail use.  Cell 28 will be preserved to view through the community center, as part of the planned memorialization.   The park will incorporate many features of a “cell with the lid off” as way of further using the unique structures of the site.
  •  The VMP plan incorporates water as a theme related to the history of the site. For example, the historic fountain currently located on the federal site will be relocated to the site. There will be spray grounds for children, a 25-meter pool inside the community center, a bio pond for water management and water features incorporating the historic silos.  There will also be historical memorialization, including community-planned and executed self-tours.
  •  The Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB), in a unanimous vote found that VMP’s revised master plan “has been developed to retain important character-defining features of the site sufficient to convey its historic characteristics.“
  • Buildings will increase in size to the north west of the site, while eastern and southern sides of the plan will step down to work with the scale of existing neighborhoods.
  •  Two thirds of the total area of the site will be open and green space.  The remaining one third of the site will include local serving retail with a premium grocery store anchor, restaurants, community and cultural space. There will also be housing and offices on site.
  •  VMP’s plan will result in 3,200 new, permanent jobs, 3,000 construction jobs and generate $1.2 billion in new tax revenues. 35% of the local contracting opportunities are required to go to certified local, small and disadvantaged businesses and more than half of all jobs created must be offered to District residents.
  • On October 31st, 2013, the HPRB voted unanimously that VMP’s revised master plan and design concepts satisfied their requirements.  Because they cannot vote on demolition, they referred the project to the Mayor’s Agent.  The project now moves forward to the Mayor’s Agent and Zoning Commission for additional approvals.
  • In 2006, the National Capital Revitalization Corporation (NCRC) issued an RFQ to select a development partner for the McMillan site. The selection process spanned several months and included several community meetings and community votes. The initial process was conducted by former Mayor Fenty, signed off on by MAG leaders and later evaluated and held up by former Mayor Gray.
  •  The eventual five bidders were judged on their land development capabilities, vertical development capabilities and financial capacity.  Community members attended tours of the vertical development projects for all five bidders. In July 2007, Vision McMillan Partners was selected from among the five bidders by the NCRC because of their collective experience with complex redevelopment projects that present a number of overlapping priorities such as historic preservation and open space.

McMillan Park

One comment on “McMillan: Fact Vs. Fiction

  1. Daniel Goldon Wolkoff

    McMillan Park, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., is a gem in the Emerald Necklace of parks planned by Sen. McMillan’s Senate Parks Commission in 1906. Parks that the DC govt. does not think this section of the city deserves.
    It is difficult to understand, why we are confronted with wrestling our own resources back from a government and development community, obsessed with huge new construction, which needlessly destroys our parkland. The simple recognition of the limits of resources, nature, energy and available land, need to be recognized and adhered to, for a healthy living environment. This tunnel vision would not have allowed NY Central Park or Rock Creek Park to exist unless excessively over-developed.
    We need to emulate Manhattan’s Central Park, one of the world’s “Great Places”. Over 500 acres, declining in the 1970s, where a conservancy joined with the City of New York for a 26-year public-private partnership to restore, manage, and enhance the magnificent park. It is hard to accept the District fencing off McMillan, our Olmsted park, wasting this “Great Place” and over $17 million for over a quarter of a century.Then spending over $250,000 annually to mow a lawn, no one could ever sit on, picnic on, stroll on or in any way benefit from! How could they leave this precious , large tract of parkland to waste(govt. institutional racism), instead of simply planting trees which by now would have already grown into a tall lush forest with all its critical benefits to the environment, the storm water retention, the air, and the health of the community.
    In any city including the preferred upper NW section of DC, with proper planning, the millions of dollars would have supported a McMillan Park Conservancy, and funded the restoration of the park and all its activities for our city, years ago. The complete waste of McMillan Park demonstrates the neglect and contempt the DC government has for DC’s eastern section, under-served for generations, with one fifth the park space as the NW section, always given preferences. The Vision McMillan Partners development which destroys most of the historic landmark continues this unacceptable imbalance. I encourage the HPRB to reject the city’s development plans.
    The McMillan Site is protected under the Landmark and Historic District Act of 1978, DC Law 2-144, the entire site and its context “PROTECTED!” VMP itself commissioned the Historic Preservation Report by EHT Traceries, Inc. which states “this level of development, is inconsistent with historic preservation of the site,” AND THAT IS SELF EVIDENT!
    We need all of this park space, our land, even more we need an expanded park system, for critical community activities and recreation. We need the vision of Sen. McMillan to restore and complete “The Emerald Necklace” of green space, woods, and trails for the health of our central city. For a higher quality of life, like the upper income areas of DC have enjoyed, since Olmsted designed Rock Creek Park in 1890.
    Our wasteful city govt., sucking every dollar it can out of the tax paying residents, and pleading about increasing its revenue from McMillan. But the richest government in the world can increase its tax revenue as the parkside property values rise and the concessions, performances, art classes and a huge City Market generate tax revenue and fees in McMillan Park. Indoor urban agriculture is a brilliant adaptive re-use of 20 acres under the “green roof”. We must stop the demolition of McMillan.
    Revenue and benefits to our city will also come from the new residents, who do not buy condos on our parkland, but who buy and rent in alternative locations and renovate derelict properties, thus returning them to the tax rolls. Medical offices can be built across the street at Washington Hospital Center, where they belong. While patients from all the hospitals, especially Children’s National Medical Center, and their families, get some fresh air, take a nice walk, and help their recovery in a “Healing Garden” at McMillan. City residents and our visitors need parks, destinations, and “Great Places.” The real McMillan (Senator from Michigan) had that vision over 100 years ago. Nothing about this miserable failure, by the DC govt.,recommends them to develop, pave over, and sell out our park. McMillan should never have been lopped off from the McM Reservoir in the first place. When the federal government offered it to DC for free if they maintained it as green space. The best option is to now revert to federal control where National Park Service and McMillan Park Conservancy can restore and provide recreation along the Glen Echo Model.
    I support the park restoration and sustainable community design by CUA Professor Miriam Gusevich, a design which sunlights the underground creek creating a sand beach, offers us urban agriculture and forestry, and brilliantly creates a world-class City Market, in adaptive reuse of the huge existing under-surface masonry galleries. Even the “so dangerous” manhole covers can
    be converted to skylights for a natural light source as you buy your fresh local farmed ingredients for dinner in the City Market below.
    The restoration of McMillan is an incredible opportunity, the vision-less DC govt. is destroying. The reservoir in New York’s Central Park serves thousands of joggers everyday, people meet and walk, for good exercise and camaraderie. It is a center, a social gathering, meanwhile our reservoir is fenced off and our park wasted since the 1980’s. Even as First Lady Michelle Obama promotes exercise, urban gardening, and good nutrition, we need our jogging paths, our reservoir, and our urban farming system in the city center at McMillan. This is really a last chance, as all remaining
    available land is being over-developed in an anti-environmental onslaught by the DC government and the big developers they serve, at our expense.
    We need space where youth and under-employed can train in masonry (that’s how it will be affordable to restore the park), carpentry, plumbing, landscaping, forestry and so much more.
    The restoration of McMillan will be a wellspring for the whole city, training programs can spin off into urban conservation corps, to help seniors fix-up and insulate their houses, etc., etc. We need sustainable energy demonstrations, and we can preserve functioning sand filtration cells to exhibit the legacy of McMillan. And even more so, it is critical we preserve all of McMillan, as a back-up emergency clean water system. Just as the fence went up in World War II to protect McMillan, this, in a world of terrorism and sabotage, how irresponsible to demolish this critical clean water infrastructure.
    The shining example, Glen Echo Park in Montgomery County, benefits all ages with a myriad of art, education, dance, theater, and festivals 365 days a year and preserved the charming 1930s amusement park and 1890s Chattaqua. Why did Montgomery County and the Maryland Park System join with the National Park Service and a Park Consortium, and do the most spectacular historic renovation? They considered a mixed use development at Glen Echo too, but they had the foresight and they value the population, the areas young people, and provided such wonderful services and recreation and preserved the history. It is very sad how mindless the DC govt. is. and no surprise we suffer crime and disrespect in return from our urban youth. They are killing each other and lives are destroyed, as DC launches another and another and another development for the rich. At McMillan, the community is ready to support our “Glen Echo”, as a place to develop DC youth in health,character, and respect, “COMMUNITY BUILDING.” Every city official campaigns on supporting our young people, and all continue to fail them, and our homes and neighborhood security suffers the result.
    We need this “Great Place” to help our youth and underemployed to succeed. We can teach masonry, carpentry, electrical, landscaping, forestry, urban agriculture and gardening, pottery and theater, all useful trades for becoming a responsible, productive adult.
    McMillan is a protected landmark. The entire site is protected by our law – all of it – not to be demolished, paved, sectioned off with 50 buildings and strips of green space. We need to restore our Olmsted Park. It is your responsibility as the HPRB to preserve the historic character of our city and McMillan is ready for such beneficial adaptive reuse. The report from the developers, that McMillan is too deteriorated for reclaiming is ludicrous and they would have built over Manhattan’s Central Park too. I encourage the HPRB to reject the city’s development plans. Stop wasting a fortune in treasure, preserve historic McMillan Park, for so many excellent reasons,for its value to the environment, to our city, to our young people.

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