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Opposition to McMillan Continues, Though D.C. Council Seems Supportive

by Lark Turner

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The plan to redevelop the McMillan Sand Filtration Site was up for debate for yet again on Wednesday, when an exhaustive meeting convened by Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie and Mayor-elect Muriel Bowser covered seemingly every argument that could be made for or against the project.

The meeting, a joint public roundtable on the legislative approvals needed to support the project, lasted from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nearly 100 people were on the list to testify, including eight ANC commissioners. Witnesses who spoke included Hugh Youngblood, from Friends of McMillan Park; Cheryl Cort, of the Coalition for Smarter Growth; Tony Norman, of the McMillan Park Committee; David Alpert, of Greater Greater Washington; many neighbors; and other interested parties.

But though many of those present testified in opposition to the plan, which was recently approved by the Zoning Commission and is up for approval by the mayor’s agent, councilmembers and a government representative seemed more concerned with getting construction started as soon as possible. The project includes 146 townhomes, 531 apartments, a grocery store, other retail and medical office buildings. Twenty percent of the housing will be reserved for people making between 50 and 80 percent of the area median income.

From the start of the meeting, which McDuffie led, it was clear most members of the council are eager to move forward with the plan, to paraphrase Bowser.

“I am eager to see it not be blighted and vacant,” Bowser said, later adding that she wanted to be sure adequate money was set aside to create the “world-class” park and community center promised by the development team. Councilmember David Grosso said the project “looks fantastic” and said he would like to “make sure we can get it done.” Tony Norman later called Grosso’s comments a “hit-and-run endorsement.”

Those testifying in opposition to the project highlighted transportation issues — the site is in an area with plenty of traffic congestion and does not have easy Metro access — as well as questions about the selection of the development team, the destruction of parts of the sand filtration site and the height and massing of the medical office buildings. But at the conclusion of most of the testimony, Jeffrey Miller, the deputy mayor for Planning and Economic Development, expressed his support for the project and said it addressed the community’s concerns.

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/opposition_to_mcmillan_project_continues_though_council_seems_supportive/9215

25 Comments

  1. JQH3 said at 11:52 am on Thursday November 13, 2014:

    While the article states that “many of those present testified in opposition to the plan” and that the Council members seemed supportive, it fails to mention the many community members who live near the site that testified in support of the project. It is a well-worn canard that people who live in Stronghold and Bloomingdale do not support the VMP plan: in fact, I would suggest that there were more from these neighborhoods who testified in favor of the plan yesterday than those opposed. Good coverage of the meeting, but it is important to dispute the VMP opposition on this point.

  1. Bloomingdale Rex said at 1:18 pm on Thursday November 13, 2014:

    While “nearly 100’ people were on the witness list, many of those people were not there and only four ANC commissioners testified.

    I am not sure that the previous commenter is correct that there were more neighbors from Bloomingdale and Stronghold who testified in support rather than opposition. Perhaps someone can provide a count?

  1. Eric Schultz said at 2:28 pm on Thursday November 13, 2014:

    Time and time again the people turn out in opposition to the development. At the zoning hearing over 500 people opposed the plan and less than 100 supported the plan. At the previous surplus meeting, 3 people spoke in favor of the development and the remaining standing room only crowd spoke in opposition to the development. In a recent City Paper/Kojo Nandi poll, most people were unaware of McMillan or in oppositon to the plan and among people living in close proximity to the park they were strongly opposed to the development. Over 7000 people have signed a petition against this development and a Bloomingdale ANC survey indicated that people overwhelmingly supported a larger park than is currently planned. At every point this development has been put before the people - the people have said no thank you, try again and give us something different.

  1. JQH3 said at 2:46 pm on Thursday November 13, 2014:

    eschultz, I believe that your points are purposefully misleading: please provide a link that shows your 500/100 ratio of opposed to supporters in the zoning hearing. I was at 2 days of the zoning hearings and the room was full of supporters both times. Are you referring to letters? If so you may be correct, but I would imagine that most of those are form letters from FOM emails/mailings. As for the “previous surplus meeting,” do you mean the one at All Nations in 2013? I was at that meeting as well: it was an FOM flash mob, complete with yelling and cursing and was shut down by police when an FOM spokesperson threatened someone for not agreeing with him, then spat at the person. Needless to say, not a good example for you to cite.

    I live less than a block from the site, and many of my neighbors support the VMP plan, they just don’t have the time to attend every meeting or the interest to be threatened and spat at by FOM people, who are violent and confrontational.

    Stop spreading misinformation. If the FOM is going to sue I guess that’s what they are going to do, but it is a lie to say that immediate neighbors do not support the VMP plan.

  1. Lark Turner said at 3:38 pm on Thursday November 13, 2014:

    Hi Bloomingdale Rex,
    Thanks, you’re correct. We updated the article to reflect the discrepancy between those who were on the list to testify and those who were physically present to speak. There is also testimony in the record that may not have been spoken at the roundtable.
    Lark

  1. Eric Schultz said at 3:54 pm on Thursday November 13, 2014:

    At the zoning hearing, yes, I was referring to letters that were submitted. That was the easier count to find online. Keep in mind that many of the letters in support of the development were drafted and collected by VMP who paid people to go door to door to collect letters of support as well as from people associated with the development. VMP is funding a campaign to show support for their development.
    Here is the link to the surplus meeting in June 2013 - http://dmped.dc.gov/publication/mcmillan-surplus-comments-transcription-public-hearing-june-6-2013

    Here is the link to the Washington City Paper poll - http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/articles/46479/the-politics-issue-2014/

    Here is a link to a City Paper Article explaining that the closer you get to McMillan - the more opposition there is - http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/looselips/2014/10/29/on-mcmillan-location-matters/

    Here is a link to the Friends of McMillan petition - http://friendsofmcmillan.org/take-action/sign-our-petition/
    I’ve been told that over 7000 people have signed it. But, I’ve not seen the hard copies. If you contact FOM, perhaps they can verify it for you.
    Here is a link to the ANC survey - http://friendsofmcmillan.org/links/survey/
    This survey was conducted by the ANC reps in Bloomingdale and was blessed and reviewed by Kenyan McDuffie. The ANC commissioners went to great lengths to get responses from as many residents as possible.

  1. skidrowedc@gmail.com said at 4:38 pm on Thursday November 13, 2014:

    Well, eschultz, of course the neighborhood would prefer a larger park!  Doubtless if the question were, do Bloomingdale and Stronghold residents prefer a Lexus or a Kia—either one free, provided by the taxpayers of the rest of DC—they’d prefer the Lexus.   

    NO!—The reservoir grounds are an asset of ALL of DC, not just those who live nearby.  Bloomingdale and Stronghold are getting an incredible deal—a fantastic new park—but their opposition groups are so greedy that they can only claim victimhood.  Their signs and petitions, to “Save MacMillan Park,” overlook the obvious fact that there is not currently a park!

    Fortunately, the powers-that-be which represent the city as a whole seem to realize this. They also seem to realize that the Hospital Center complex—a huge source of good jobs that can’t easily relocate to the ‘burbs—needs expansion space.  Neighbors, too many of you have overplayed your hand, and the rest of DC is tired of your game.

  1. JQH3 said at 4:47 pm on Thursday November 13, 2014:

    While I’m impressed that you actually posted the links, I believe that the conclusions you are drawing from them are inaccurate. To wit:

    1) the June surplus was nothing more than an FOM flashmob: anyone who spoke in favor of the VMP plan was booed, hissed and yelled at. You will see from the transcript that one of the FOM spokespeople was ranting and raving like a lunatic, yelling that he was “tired of bullshit use for the fucking law.” This was in front of numerous children, who looked scared. I was there and saw this happen.

    2) This survey, which you claim shows opposition to the VMP plan, does not show that: in fact the authors go out of their way to say the people don’t seem to care. 26% support the VMP plan, 28% oppose, and everyone else does not care. How do you justify your position that this shows everyone opposes the plan?

    3) Again, this survey does not reflect the conclusion that you suggest: this is only by ward: many residents in Ward 2 live closer to the site than those in Ward 5: in fact, the site is on the far western edge of Ward 5. This survey is meaningless in coming to the conclusion you suggest.

    4) The ANC survey you reference is also flawed: of course, if you ask people if they prefer 50% park vs 25% park they will say the former: it’s like if the survey asked if they would oppose the plan for $1M, then you claim that everyone opposes the plan. This is a common method that people use to push their agenda by giving it the weight of “statistics.”

    None of this changes the FACT that many immediate neighbors, and many more, support the plan: look at your own reference, where a full 26% of respondents want this exact plan to be built!

  1. Hugh Youngblood said at 4:52 pm on Thursday November 13, 2014:

    To help save McMillan Park from being turned into Silver Spring or Crystal City, please contribute to the Save McMillan Park Legal Fund: crowdrise.com/savemcmillanpark

  1. Bloomingdale Rex said at 4:53 pm on Thursday November 13, 2014:

    The Bloomingdale and Stronghold neighborhoods do not currently have a park or a rec center. The playground that was at the site was destroyed to create a larger reservoir for the benefit of the entire city.

    The proposed park will be a benefit to the neighborhoods, true, but will be shared with the new residents in the proposed communities, as well as the city. But only the abutting neighborhoods will suffer from the traffic issues that will worsen with the thousands of added vehicle trips to the offices/medical buildings.

  1. Hugh Youngblood said at 4:53 pm on Thursday November 13, 2014:

    For more information on the community’s ongoing work to save the park, stay tuned to friendsofmcmillan.org/ and follow @McMillanPark on twitter.

  1. Eric Schultz said at 5:09 pm on Thursday November 13, 2014:

    Ward 5 has the least amount of parkspace in the city. If DC were trying to build these buildings at Fort Reno or Battery Kimbell Park, the lawsuits and money would be flying a lot faster than in Bloomingdale and Stronghold. The City Paper poll says that 46 people are not sure if McMillan Park should be developed. It doesn’t say they don’t care. They just don’t know about it. People close to the park know about it and they don’t like it. That’s what the City Paper poll said.
    Please, present some evidence that people want this development. I listed lots of evidence, documented evidence with numbers supporting this position.

  1. monademarkpv said at 5:13 pm on Thursday November 13, 2014:

    Come what may the people opposing this are going to try and play every dirty trick in the book to make it look like they represent this entire neighborhood. In reality they are a small group with a little bit of money (last I heard about 9k in funds) to try and turn a fenced in area into a vegetable garden with solar panels. I may not have voted for Bowser or McDuffie but I am sure glad they are in favor of McMillian being developed and aren’t going to let some small group of tree huggers stop it from moving forward. As far as the FOM are concerned, continue with your foolishness and spending useless energy opposing this. It is moving forward, it is going to happen and the sooner you get on board or accept that the better off you will be.

  1. JQH3 said at 5:22 pm on Thursday November 13, 2014:

    I did cite evidence, the poll that YOU CITED showing that 26% of respondents want the VMP plan! Of those who oppose it, who knows what they want? All they say is “we don’t want this.” When you ask them what they do want, they say a variety of things, including “underground urban fish-farming,” a “water slide,” and (at yesterday’s hearing) “a human-canine medical center.”

    This is the point: NONE OF THESE “ALTERNATIVES” are real! There is not endless funding to create a 25 acre park with no revenue source. There is no model that allows “light” development while creating the things that people NEED in this city, like jobs and houses. While opponents of the VMP plan love to say that they are not totally opposed to building on the site, if they got their way the practical outcome is that the site would remain fenced off for another 40 years! Zero park, zero grocery store, zero community center, zero urban fish-farming, zero human-canine medical center, zero giant water slides.

    That’s the reality. Good for the city council, including Kenyan (whose family has lived across the street from the site for generations) for supporting the VMP plan and useful, realistic development of the site. Booo to starry-eyed FOM hippies.

  1. Eric Schultz said at 5:28 pm on Thursday November 13, 2014:

    Which DC parks have a revenue source? The poll states the majority of people are not sure if McMillan should be developed. 28% oppose and 26% are in favor. The fewest number of people support development. It also shows that the people closest to the park oppose it the most. Go back and read the articl in the City Paper.
    As far as your reference to the grocery store, if you were at the zoning hearing, you may have heard VMP state that they have been trying to find a grocer, but have not been able to do so. They requested and zoning approved - retail. Not necessarily a grocery store - retail. Go back and review the zoning meeting.

  1. JQH3 said at 5:34 pm on Thursday November 13, 2014:

    I was at the zoning hearing and that is not what they said: they said that they are not in a position to enter into a definitive agreement with a grocer because the plan is not yet approved. Considering the lack of walkable grocery stores in the area it will be a no-brainer to put a Harris-Teeter or Whole Foods at the site.

    Re: your continuously referenced point on the survey, I don’t think that a 2% differential on a survey run by the city paper is statistically significant. I live immediately adjacent to the site and support the VMP plan, as do many of my neighbors. There was an event at the North Capitol Firehouse two weeks ago and almost 100 supporters showed up to learn more about the development.

    Your assertions that no one supports the VMP plan have been wholly disproven. I suggest you cease your baseless claims, take three deep breaths and realize that you are wrong and will not stop this development.

  1. Eric Schultz said at 5:46 pm on Thursday November 13, 2014:

    It’s zoned for retail, period. They can put whatever kind of retail they want. This project is about money and who pays the rent. That’s why the developer is funding a campaign to quiet the opposition. That’s why the developer sponsors events with food and drink, to get people to go. I have been to some of the developers events - eating bagles and donuts, does that make me a supporter?
    It is 1.6 miles from McMillan to the Harris Teeter at First and M St., NE. Perhaps they want to build another one that close. Whole Foods is on P St. NW and is building on H St. NE. Maybe they will build them every mile or so.
    I never said no one supposts McMillan, of course there are supporters, they are just in the minority.

  1. monademarkpv said at 6:11 pm on Thursday November 13, 2014:

    Eschultzdc…If believing there are no supporters of this project lets you sleep at night, then by all means keep believing that. The supporters just aren’t the loud, obnoxious type. They know that this is going to happen and don’t feel the need to stomp about like small children not getting their way. Accept it, the best you will be able to do is delay it. I suggest that while you are delaying it you look for some property in the Front Royal or some other rural area that you won’t be confused about where you live. DC is a city. I know that is probably shocking news to you but it is. This is happening, deal with it. The new mayor is on board. Do you get that fact? The councilman representing the ward where McMillian is located is on board and he lives across the street from it. No amount of noise or foot stomping is going to stop this. Keep trying if you like. If you have nothing better to spend your day doing than supporting a lost cause then by all means go for it.

  1. Bloomingdale Rex said at 6:48 pm on Thursday November 13, 2014:

    This is a direct quote from VMP at the May 5 Zoning hearing. “We would like the flexibility to include a non-grocery alternative retail plan if needed.” Does anyone have any facts/links to how this request was dealt with?

    At least in this discussion, it seems like the VMP supporters are the ones yelling and stomping, and the FoM are the rational ones providing information. There are both supporters and opponents of the VNP plan in the abutting neighborhoods, but there seems to be more evidence of opponents outnumbering supporters. Supporters - please provide some numbers.

    Thanks, eschultzdc, for providing links.

  1. Daniel Wolkoff said at 10:36 pm on Thursday November 13, 2014:

    I testified to the City Council Committee hearing today, and I found a check on the hearing room floor from Jeffrey Thompson, made out for $1 million to “pay to play, DC City Council”..I assured Kenyan McDuffie it wasn’t for him!
    I said to the VMP “Team”, they didn’t need to bother with hearings, they could just buy the City Council.
    David Grosso has enjoyed an appointment with Carmen Group, the hot shot government lobbtist Trammel Crow has on retainer for $10,000 a month. I think these pseudo environmentalists, like David Grosso, so eager to sell our city out to the developer conglomerate can ggo kayaking in the sewage pools the dc government has made of some neighborhoods. Wrong development, wrong place, wrong people, you really don’t put 20,000 cars, 3000 parking asphalt parking spaces and 30,000 toilets right on a massive infrastructure failure, GOD SAVE US FROM the DC City Council,,euthenize it, just as you would any other rabid animal, it’s just merciful. 
    Daniel Goldon Wolkoff
    McMillan Coalition for Sustainable Agriculture
    1231 Randolph Street, NE
    Washington, DC 20017
    Tel: 202-232-8391

  1. Daniel Wolkoff said at 10:56 pm on Thursday November 13, 2014:

    JQH3 thanks for your comments
    “As for the “previous surplus meeting,” do you mean the one at All Nations in 2013? I was at that meeting as well: it was an FOM flash mob, complete with yelling and cursing and was shut down by police when an FOM spokesperson threatened someone for not agreeing with him, then spat at the person. Needless to say, not a good example for you to cite.

    “I live less than a block from the site, and many of my neighbors support the VMP plan, they just don’t have the time to attend every meeting or the interest to be threatened and spat at by FOM people, who are violent and confrontational.”
    and I’m glad you don’t approve of people who pass untrue rumors. Because not a thing in your recall of the June 2013 “surplus community meeting” is accurate…You and the other mimmicks , look stupid repeating the talking points from the Jamie Fontaine, carpetbagging PR firm Jeff Miller at DMPED hired to subvert legitimate opposition. Please read the Goals in the VMP/Fontaine document, might have worked inn East Germany, but should be brought too court in America.. If you approve of corporate dirty tricks , you are being used by one!
    If you would like an accurate, word for word, description of the encounter between Daniel Wolkoff and Jeff Miller at that meeting, ask us. Nobody was spit on, not at all, no police closed the meeting. Please wonder how such complete fabrications are in your mind! What is wrong with your recollection, did Jamie Fontaine send you a talking point. Call me , I’m happy to straighten you out, cause you need it. 202-232-8391 Daniel Goldon Wolkoff

  1. JQH3 said at 11:40 pm on Thursday November 13, 2014:

    You strike me as a dangerous and deranged lunatic. I suggest you seek mental health counseling.

  1. Daniel Wolkoff said at 12:06 am on Friday November 14, 2014:

    JQH3,,who ever you are behind your silly acronym, or whatever it is. Please grow up to be a mensch!
    Any curse words at the June 13 Community meeting on surplussing or your completely false rumors, have nothing to do with the issue. What is good urban planning matters and park planning, historic preservation, Bloomingdale African-American history and DC culture, safe water security, a food/nutrition and exercise hub, resourceful area food services, and the many real issues we are confronting. All this right on top of a massive infrastructure failure, and the future quality of life in DC, our home. If you believe Trammel Crow and Jeff Miller, a Deputy Mayor who has trouble remembering the truth, just like you, during sworn testimony to your City Council, support them on the facts. Not on my behavior cause that is not relevant. Corruption of our government is relevant,,check on it smart ass.

  1. monademarkpv said at 9:25 am on Friday November 14, 2014:

    JQH3- ignore Wolkoff. He doesn’t live a block from the sight. Lives closer to Providence Hospital. If he will lie about that to make himself seem more important he will lie about anything.

  1. Mat B said at 5:23 pm on Friday November 14, 2014:

    To the larger point of opposition and support: I think the clearest evidence of opposition are the letters from both the Bloomingdale Civic Association and Stronghold Civic Association opposing this project. Both are open to the public and both nearly unanimously (in the case of the BCA, Commissioner Barnes was the only supporter) voted in opposition to the project. I understand that not everyone can attend a zoning hearing or mayor’s agent hearing, but people should at least be able to attend a civic association meeting if they care. These are not Friends of McMillan environments.

    Concerning both the zoning hearing and petition - Eric is correct that over 500 were opposed with only 100 or so in favor. The oral testimony is similarly lopsided to the opposition (I can provide a spreadsheet if you want JQH3). To JQH3’s point, this was based on submitted letters. To that end, many letters were standard language but the same holds true for VMP (almost all were the same letter) which posted canned language on the Coalition for Smarter Growth website. Nonetheless, 5 times more people signed to claim opposition. As mentioned, the actual testimony is just as lopsided if one dismisses letters as not representative. For the petition, I believe the numbers are around 7,000 in opposition. I personally vetted all the hard copies and organized them (accounting for duplicates) just because I wanted to see if there was any truth to what was being pushed out there. They are actual signatures and filled out sheets which were collected over the course of a year by a few folks going to farmers markets and other area events in their free time.

    Everyone knows there is some support for this project. There is frankly just much more opposition and proof of that opposition. There has never been proof that anywhere near as many people support this project. The only evidence I’ve seen is a handout VMP gave at the open house, commissioned by VMP, and with incredibly skewed questions.

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