McMillan Sand Filtration Plant Site
McMillan Sand Filtration Plant Site

We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.

There’s more than old sand swirling around plans for the McMillan site.

On a recent Tuesday evening, about a dozen Bloomingdale-area residents gathered around a fire for wine, cheese, mini spinach pastries, and their shared desire to take down a group of D.C. developers. It was one of two strategy sessions-a pre-public meeting before a big public meeting last Saturday at Trinity University.

The subject of all this strategizing: 25 acres of green, one of the largest undeveloped parcels in the city, known as the old McMillan Sand Filtration Site. Since the mid-1980s, the land’s water filtration plant has been inactive. At least since then, the District has been deciding and re-deciding what to do with it. Different groups have lobbied for it be a museum, a library, a park, and a national memorial for dogs that died in war. In 2007, the city pulled the trigger, picking Vision McMillan Partners, a group of companies led by Bethesda-based EYA.

EYA unveiled its plans to the community in December. Artistic renderings showed grassy quads surrounded by ethereal, translucent trees, a community amphitheater, and broad corridors of retail. There would be eight acres of public green space, 1,000 to 1,200 units of mixed-income housing, and 400,000 square feet of office space, according to developers.

As the plans got passed around and republished on the Web, one resident launched a blog devoted entirely to criticizing them. There and elsewhere, the rumor mills churned; alliances and conflicts were made and aired out. It all came to resemble a season of Survivor.
Some of the conspiracy theories taking hold in Bloomingdale prove more suspect than others. This week, we’ll examine a few of them, one by one:

CONSPIRACY THEORY NO. 1: Trader Joe’s is a pipe dream. The retail’s going to be cheap chicken joints.
CONSPIRACY THEORY NO. 2: Developers have “plants” in the audience.
CONSPIRACY THEORY NO. 3: Developers may be paying off the local ANC commissioner.
CONSPIRACY THEORY NO. 4:The developers can’t finance this project.

Image by Darrow Montgomery