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There’s arguably no plan more contentious in D.C. than the one to build a mixed-use development on the 25-acre McMillan Sand Filtration Site. All across town, but particularly near the North Capitol Street site, you can find “Save McMillan Park” signs. Never mind that the site was never a established park, nor that the development plans call for ample green space. The mere idea of high-density development on what’s long lain fallow is an abomination to many neighbors.
Now take that site, multiply it by a factor of three, move it a few blocks up the road, and you’ve got the next big battle.
The Armed Forces Retirement Home, also known as the Old Soldiers’ Home, has long discussed turning over a portion of its 272 acres, just east of Petworth and Park View, for development in order to fund its continued operations. The federally-owned site is home to retired veterans—-but it also sits on one of the last expansive pieces of prime real estate in the District.
Now the General Services Administration, which is overseeing the development process, is getting ready to put out a call to private developers to take over the southeast corner of the site, totaling 80 acres. That’s more than three times the size of McMillan, on a site that’s already more parklike than the vacant sand filtration site, with rolling hills and hiking paths through the woods. It’s even larger than the 67-acre development planned at Walter Reed, on upper Georgia Avenue.
According to the Washington Post‘s Jonathan O’Connell, the GSA will issue a solicitation for developers this month and hopes select a development team by the fall. Much like McMillan, the master plan for the site development calls for a mix of residential, office, retail, and medical facilities.
The AFRH site is generally closed to the public, with the exception of certain special events that offer a glimpse into its bucolic beauty. Because it’s hard for neighbors to see, it may not command the same kind of resistance as the more visible McMillan. But for residents who have walked its paths, or who don’t like the idea of more development in their midst, this project is likely to become the prime target. Get ready for a fight.
Images from the development master plan