Kwame Brown

Greater, Greater Washington hosted a discussion today with Councilmember Kwame Brown, Chair of the Committee on Economic Development.

Toward the end of the conversation, a question was posed about the McMillan site, which I’ve written about repeatedly (Just the usual D.C. development topics: ANC bribery, cheap chicken joint retail, financing claims, and “plants” attempting to sway public opinion in community meetings.)

Here’s the query typed up by Bloomingdale blogger Geoff Hatchard:

Councilmember Brown, there have been many meetings on the McMillan plan. I have attended most of the public meetings, and it’s clear that there are some people who will not agree to any development at that site. While I applaud your goal to look for “a plan that the public is behind,” the fact is that this is contentious enough that there will never be 100% consensus there. Will you be willing to push a vetted plan through that MOST of the community is happy with, helping us to avoid it being bogged down by trying to reach out to people who refuse to compromise in the first place?

Here’s how Brown responded, or evaded:

I’m actively involved with the McMillan Advisory Group, which is made up of residents and stakeholders of the McMillan community and we are working hard to come up with a plan that makes sense for everyone involved. We need to have a plan that maxmizes the benefit to District residents and the use of District dollars and “the people’s land.”

Note to Brown: Any response with the phrase “the people’s land” already reeks of a certain Why-Did-I-Just-Waste-My-Time-Reading-This-? quality.

But more than that, it seems clear that some people that oppose the McMillan plan want the entire proposal overhauled with more green space and less density. The developers contend that they can only make relatively minor tweaks considering the funding structure in place. The 25-acre site has sat purposeless since the 1980s. Now, there’s an actual clear vision for building retail, usable park land, and more than a thousand housing units on the parcel.

A project this large, and centrally located doesn’t just affect the immediate areas, it affects the entire city…So “the community” in this case should be defined as pretty much everyone in D.C., who could conceivably live here, eat here, buy things here, and lounge around here.

So to answer the original question—-“Will you be willing to push a vetted plan through that MOST of the community is happy with…?”—-Brown should have just replied YES, if he wants this land developed soon.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery