City Paper is not for tourists
Earlier this week, UrbanTurf published a couple of renderings of the new design for a big park at the McMillan sand filtration site along North Capitol Street. The latest scheme from Vision McMillan Partners address some neighborhood concerns, replaces a 3.4-acre park at the center of the site with a 6.2-acre park at the southern edge, and looks, well, rather gorgeous:
The Historic Preservation Office likes the changes, calling them “a substantial improvement” and praising the new park for its “far superior location and concept.” But the neighbors who objected to the earlier designs? Not so much.
“We’re still not in favor of the plan, because basically, I mean, the park they’ve done some things with, but they made it more dense by pushing things up,” says local Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Tony Norman.
“The basic objections still stand,” says John Salatti of the Bloomingdale Civic Association. (Update: The Bloomingdale Civic Association emails to note that it has not taken a position yet on the new plans; Salatti is speaking for himself.) “Yes, there have been a lot of changes, and the pictures are prettier, but the changes don’t actually address any of the concerns we discussed last year.”
Norman objects principally to the taller buildings in the new design and the fact that not all the park space will be usable by the public. (He prefers this lower-density proposal, which the developers can’t be wild about, given the diminished revenue potential.) Salatti protests the loss of sight lines from the Stronghold neighborhood to Howard University and the National Cathedral and the lack of creativity in the design. “The idea that McMillan could be Washington’s Millennium Park or High Line, that kind of creativity has never come to the project,” Salatti says.
And so the seven-year battle is likely to drag on longer. “Every improvement they’ve made has been done because the community has forced them to do it,” Salatti says. If that’s the case, don’t expect McMillan’s dissatisfied neighbors to give up the fight.