It’s been a long time since we’ve updated you on the progress of our plan for the McMillan Sand Filtration Site. We were presented a major challenge when asked to accommodate DC Water’s plan to use the site to help mitigate the flooding in Bloomingdale. So we sharpened our pencils and went to work. What we’ve planned addresses community concerns, HPRB feedback and accommodates DC Water. We are very proud to share this plan.
The major change involves setting aside the entire lower third of the site for a public park and amenities — 6.25 acres of green space plus 1.8 acres in the preserved South Service Court. A pond designed to help manage storm water recalls the creek bed beneath the site. The site still features a full-service community center with the amenities the community has requested—a pool, fitness center, classrooms, meeting space and catering kitchen.
In order to provide expanded green space, we have condensed the footprint of the development in the project—there are fewer residential units than originally planned and the site over all has lost about 10% of its square footage.
We’ve taken care in the details: the Olmstead Walk, defined by a double row of thornless Hawthorne trees, will bloom pink in the spring, turn a striking red in the fall, and have red berries in the winter. The park has amenities for all ages, places to play games and places to have a quiet picnic. You’ll be able to go the First Street side of park and from the preserved elevation, you’ll be able to look out across the adjacent reservoir, to Howard’s Campus or down toward the Mall—a view you’re currently denied by the fence on the site.
VMP has submitted this revised Masterplan to HPRB and expects to present it on April 4, 2013. This plan reflects a labor of love—our respect for the landmark, our desire to provide amenities the community deserves, our pride in serving the Clean Rivers Project while creating 3,000 permanent jobs in the healthcare sector.
We’re very excited to have this culmination of the hard work of Bloomingdale, Stronghold, Eckington, Edgewood, Bates Area and LeDroit Park neighbors come together.
In addition to the upcoming hearing on April 4th, there will also be a rollout of the buildings planned for the site on April 27th, at a community-wide meeting. We have not secured the location yet, but will let you know as soon as we do.
Thank you for your input and work on this plan.
Neighborhood Outreach Coordinator
Yesterday VMP returned to the Historic Preservation Review Board, formally presenting our Design Guidelines (rules we created to govern how the components get designed) and the current evolution of the site’s Master Plan (retooling the park system with a stronger sense of the site’s history).
On hand to present the new park system was Warren Byrd, who walked the board through his drawings and talked about opportunities to develop water capture systems, restore the Olmsted Walk and create new ways for visitors to experience the history of the site. Emily Eig shared her recommendations for the preservation approach given the criteria in the landmark application focuses on the engineering function and its association with Senator McMillan and the city beautiful movement.
The meeting concluded with comments from each of the board, who aren’t actually tasked with voting on the masterplan. They emphasized that their interest is in the memorialization of site especially the plinth even as doing so conflicts with good urban design principles or community preferences. “I don’t know how you do that…,” one member lamented. They did acknowledge the useful tool of ANC 5C’s resolution, which carefully documents key historic issues, the community process and the expectations the neighborhood has as the plan goes forward. They lauded the clear hard work and continued effort on addressing the complexity of the project, but asked about ways to increase the sense of the plinth, and actually talking about importance of McMillan as a separate entity as opposed to one needing to be integrated into the surrounding community context. Because of their interest in its history and unique position, the comments in many ways ran contrary to what VMP has heard from other DC agencies AND community stakeholders on all sides — most especially the principle of integration into the city fabric. AS examples, removing the Channing Street berm and increasing permeability by restoring street connections.
VMP and its design team will weigh these comments as we further develop the plan and its components. We look to share a further refined Central Park and Community Center along with building designs in the coming months.
Neighborhood Outreach Coordinator