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Oh lord. Where to begin?
For those that haven’t been following the McMillan site proceedings, here’s a recap: The McMillan Sand Filtration Plant site is a 25-acre parcel of land by the intersection of North Capitol Street and Michigan Avenue, Northwest. In December, a development team unveiled plans re-imagining the land as a mixed-use community with up to 1,200 housing units, a grocery store, retail—the works. In the following month, a Bloomingdale resident launched a blog “No Drilling at McMillan” and local residents started banding together and holding neighbors-only meetings, claiming developers were controlling all the community meetings, and generally treating people like elementary school students—-i.e. only letting people speak when called on, shushing them, etc.
All this set the stage for Saturday’s meeting which kicked off around 10 a.m. at a building in Brookland on the Trinity College campus. Clint Jackson, the city’s project manager for this site, opened with a very clear description of the District’s expectations for the site:
- Generate $25 to $35 million annually in city taxes. Yeah, increase the tax base! He said it!
- Increase the District’s affordable housing stock.
- Create more open green space.
- Preserve some of the site’s historic elements.
- Open more retail outlets in the District of Columbia, so people stop spending all their money in Maryland and Virginia.
“This is not a political rally. We don’t want things to get out of hand,” he said, a clear reference to the clipboards being passed around by people that had attended residents-only meetings earlier that week.
Developers then began their presentation, eventually unveiling their new site plan, which showed:
- Mmmm, slightly, more contiguous park space, toward the southern end of the site between some rows of townhouses and other residential buildings.The new plan showed about a half acre more of contiguous space.
- A new road on First Street entering the development and greater access to the park from multiple sides. A walkway from Channing Street was widened. Other entrance points from First Street and North Capitol Street now go directly to contiguous park space (No cars buzzing by to kill your kids as they head out to play Frisbee).
- A different historic preservation plan. Previously, the development team offered to preserve one underground “cell,” which was part of the original sand filtration plant. After a call for more historic preservation, the site will now preserve portions of three cells. “One of them could tell the history of the site, another could be a children’s-focused museum. Another could tell the story of how the waterworks evolved from sand filtration to what’s across the street,” Aakash Thakkar, a representative of EYA, stated on Saturday.
- New townhouses on Channing Street will be built at a slightly lower grade than imagined in previous plans, so they will be at the same level as the homes across the street.
That was the first part of the meeting. The second part got testy. I’ll do a write-up this afternoon.
*Sorry. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get a clearer image by later this afternoon.