loading...

McMillan Developers Respond to Concerns Raised By DC Court of Appeals

  • March 15, 2017

by Nena Perry-Brown

image
A rendering of the McMillan Reservoir redevelopment

A hearing scheduled for last week was intended to give Vision McMillan Partners (VMP) and representatives from the city the opportunity to respond to the concerns outlined by the DC Court of Appeals (DCCA) in their decision to vacate approval for redevelopment of the McMillan Sand Filtration site. While that hearing was postponed, the development team has nonetheless submitted new documentation to the Zoning Commission offering detailed justification for their development proposal.

“The Project, as currently designed, represents the only feasible alternative that can retain a substantial part of the [planned-unit development (PUD)] site as open space and make the site usable for recreational purposes, while at the same time balancing the interest in leveraging this site to advance objectives for housing, economic development, and community facilities; improving tree canopy and reducing urban runoff; and promoting high-quality design,” the cover letter explains.

More-detailed responses are summarized below.

Development Density

The developers’ perspective is that the Court of Appeals disagreed with the Friends of McMillan Park (FOMP) that high-density development is inconsistent with what the Future Land Use Map intended for this particular site and that the Comprehensive Plan constitutes a mandate for whatever development occurs or precludes any decision made by the Zoning Commission. Rather, DCCA found that the Commission did not adequately explain the reasoning behind supporting high-density development rather than medium- to moderate-density.

VMP also doesn’t believe that the specific Comprehensive Plan policies that FOMP cited hold weight in this particular case; especially as the Implementation Element of the Plan states that when there are several competing priorities in a case, the Land Use Element should take precedence.

Additional concerns about the proposal surrounded the issues of the preservation of open space, impact on the environment and the surrounding land values, potential displacement of neighboring residents, and adequate response to the community demand for more public services.

In response, the development team points out that, when taken as aggregate, the PUD is within what would be allowed by-right in the C2A moderate-density commercial zone; as proposed, higher-density buildings are concentrated toward the northern end of the site to allow more contiguous open space toward the southern end of the site. The response also goes into great detail to describe how decreasing density in any of the components would undermine other objectives of the Comprehensive Plan while further impacting the community.

Particular attention is given to the proposed healthcare facility building, which is 115 feet in height based on the desired use (rather than being an office, which wouldn’t need as much space). The submittal explains that in order to make the building moderate-density, two floors would need to be removed, jeopardizing the developers’ ability to secure an anchor tenant and generate enough traffic to support the retail. In that circumstance, the developer would be unwilling to move forward with the project as a whole.

Environmental Impact

For the inevitable environmental impact that any development creates, the Commission is tasked with determining whether any impact will be beneficial to the site, could be mitigated, or is acceptable based on the quality of public benefits delivered. Toward this end, the development team states that the project will implement low-impact development strategies that would constitute an improvement on the site’s current environmental status (e.g. expanding the tree canopy; stormwater management; buildings certified LEED Silver, at minimum; and fulfilling the city’s Green Area Ratio requirements through landscaping, green roofs, etc.).

A comprehensive approach to stormwater management on the site is also likelier to ease the downstream flooding that Bloomingdale residents currently experience, as the site as-is has no system in place to address management and treatment of stormwater and runoff.

Land Values and Displacement

On this topic, the development team consulted with Robert Charles Lesser and Co. and concluded that the PUD would have a minimal impact on land values and displacement when one considers the current market forces in the surrounding area, the quantity of affordable housing that the development would provide, the community benefits agreement the development team is offering and the programs that the city has in place to respond to these concerns.

The study notes that housing price increases and attendant gentrification have been “well underway” since as early as 2000-2001, noting several examples of how the housing market in the area has changed: condominium prices for units purchased since 2003 and sold in 2016 have appreciated at a higher annual rate than those in Dupont Circle. The median price of a single-family house in Bloomingdale is higher than the citywide median.

In light of this, the development team asserts that adding housing to the neighborhood can help mitigate the effects of gentrification and won’t directly displace any neighboring residents or commercial establishments. Additionally, the team believes that rather than concentrating healthcare services in the neighborhood, adding healthcare buildings would create newer facilities that are more responsive to a variety of healthcare needs will being proximate to other neighborhoods that are underserved by healthcare facilities, such as Fort Totten.

As proposed, the McMillan Reservoir redevelopment at the 25-acre site along North Capitol Street between Michigan Avenue and 2501 First Street NW (map) would deliver 146 townhouses, 531 apartments, a park with playground and amphitheater, medical office buildings, and a variety of community-serving retail, including a grocery store. VMP includes Jair Lynch, EYA, Trammell Crow, and architect firms Shalom Baranes and Perkins Eastman.

The Zoning Commission will host a limited-scope hearing on the development on March 23rd.

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/vision_mcmillan_partners_and_dmped_respond_to_concerns_from_court_of_appeal/12335

3 Comments

  1. Andrea Rosen said at 4:17 pm on Wednesday March 15, 2017:

    Correction: The March 10 event that was postponed was not a “community meeting.” It was a hearing before the Mayor’s Agent for Historic Preservation, whose decision to approve McMillan Town Center at the nationally and locally recognized historic site, McMillan Park, was vacated and remanded by the D.C. Court of Appeals.

  1. Eric Says said at 8:24 pm on Wednesday March 15, 2017:

    Are the developers actually claiming that building roads, sidewalks and buildings with tenants that use toilets, showers, and dishwashers will be “reducing urban runoff” by covering what is essentially a 25 acre green roof?
    Can anyone explain how covering a green park with buildings and roads will reduce urban run off?

  1. DCDude70 said at 2:37 pm on Friday March 24, 2017:

    What still bothers me is that this site has some interesting architectural structures, has stunning views of the reservoir, the capital and Howard University.
    The proposed architecture is dull, at best. It is tan brick, beige metal trim, utilitarian glazing and uninspired design. I can’t believe that the developers would want to make this an example of great design and use. I know the developers will win, because they always do. I just wish they would redesign the buildings so that they can rival other cities for architectural integrity.

Comments are closed.

DC Real Estate Guides

Short guides to navigating the DC-area real estate market

We've collected all our helpful guides for buying, selling and renting in and around Washington, DC in one place. Visit guides.urbanturf.com or start browsing below!

Northern Virginia

Profiles of 14 neighborhoods across Northern Virginia

Ballston
Looking to Give People A Reason to Stay Past 6pm
Clarendon
Happily Straddling the Line Between City and Suburb
Columbia Pike
Arlington’s Neglected Stepchild is Getting a Makeover
Crystal City
Turning Lemons into Lemonade
Lyon Village
Developing An Air of Exclusivity?
Rosslyn
Hitting Its Growth Spurt
Shirlington
An Urban Village Hitting Its Stride
Del Ray
Virginia’s Small Town Near the Big City
Eisenhower Avenue
The Vibrancy Might Take a Few Years
Huntington
The Quiet Neighborhood By the Beltway
Old Town
Mayberry By The Potomac
Parkfairfax
132 Commerical-Free Acres
Downtown Falls Church
Staying the Same in the Midst of Change
Tysons Corner
Radical Change Could Be On The Way

See more Northern Virginia »

Maryland

Profiles of 14 neighborhoods in suburban Maryland

Annapolis
Small-Town Living in the State Capital
Bethesda
Bedroom Community Gets Buzzing Cache
Cabin John
In With The New While Maintaining the Old
Chevy Chase
Affluence, Green Lawns and Pricey Homes
Downtown Silver Spring
Experiencing a Resurgence After a Bumpy History
Potomac
A Suburb on Steroids
Rockville Town Square
Despite the Dynamism, Still Somewhat Generic
Takoma Park
More Than a Little Bit Quirky
Wheaton
A Foodie Magnet on the Verge of Change
Capitol Heights
Kudzu, Front Porches and Crime
Hyattsville
Glass Half Full or Half Empty?
Mount Rainier
Artists, Affordable Homes and A Silo Full of Corn
National Harbor
A Development Rises Next to the Potomac
Riverdale Park
A Town Looking For Its Identity

See more Maryland »

Northwest DC

30+ neighborhood profiles for the city's biggest quadrant

16th Street Heights
DC's Sleeper Neighborhood
Bloomingdale
Where (Almost) Everyone Knows Your Name
AU Park
One of DC’s Last Frontiers Before the Suburbs
Brightwood
DC’s Northern Neighborhood on the Cusp
Burleith
DC’s 535 House Neighborhood
Cathedral Heights
Do You Know Where That Is?
Chevy Chase DC
Not to Be Confused With the Other Chevy Chase
Cleveland Park
Coming Back After A Rough Year
Columbia Heights
DC’s Most Diverse Neighborhood, But For How Long?
Crestwood
An Island of Serenity East of the Park
Dupont Circle
The Best of DC (For a Price)
Foggy Bottom & West End
Where the Institutional Meets the International
Forest Hills
Ambassadors and Adventurous Architecture
Foxhall Village
350 Homes Just West of Georgetown
Friendship Heights
A Shopping Mecca With a Few Places to Live
Georgetown
History, Hoyas and H&M
Glover Park
One of DC’s Preppier and More Family-Friendly Neighborhoods
Kalorama
A Posh View From Embassy Row
LeDroit Park
A Quiet Enclave in the Middle of the City
Logan Circle
Trendy Now, But Not By Accident
Mount Pleasant
Sought-After Homes Surround Main Street in Transition
Mount Vernon Triangle
From Seedy to Sought-After
Palisades
The Long, Skinny Neighborhood at the City’s Northwest Edge
Park View
It’s Not Petworth
Penn Quarter/Chinatown
DC’s Go-Go-Go Neighborhood
Petworth
Getting a Vibrancy of Its Own
Shaw
The Duke’s Former Stomping Ground
Shepherd Park
DC’s Garden of Diversity
Spring Valley
A Suburb With a DC Zip Code
Takoma
Not To Be Confused With Takoma Park
Tenleytown
Not Quite Like Its Neighbors
U Street Corridor
The Difference a Decade Makes
Woodley Park
Deceptively Residential
Adams Morgan
No Longer DC’s Hippest Neighborhood, But Still Loved by Residents

See more Northwest DC »

Southwest DC

The little quadrant that could

Southwest Waterfront
A Neighborhood Where A Change Is Gonna Come

See more Southwest DC »

Northeast DC

Profiles of 10 neighborhoods in NE

Brookland
New Development Could Shake Up Pastoral Peace
Deanwood
A Little Bit of Country Just Inside the District’s Borders
Eckington
Not to Be Confused With Bloomingdale
Fort Totten
Five Years Could Make a Big Difference
H Street
A Place To Party, and To Settle Down
Langdon
The Northeast Neighborhood That Few Know About
Michigan Park
A Newsletter-On-Your-Doorstep Community
NoMa
Evolving from a Brand to a Neighborhood
Rosedale
Ripe for Investment Right About Now
Trinidad
The Difference 5 Years Makes
Woodridge
Big Houses, A Dusty Commercial Strip and Potential

See more Northeast DC »

Southeast DC

6 neighborhoods from Capitol Hill to East of the River

Capitol Riverfront
Still Growing
Hill East
Capitol Hill’s Lesser Known Neighbor
Congress Heights
Gradually Rising
Hillcrest
Notable for Its Neighborliness
Historic Anacostia
Future Promise Breeds Cautious Optimism
Eastern Market
A More European Way of Living

See more Southeast DC »

Upcoming Seminars ▾