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McMillan Team Responds to Zoning Commission Concerns in Advance of Remand Hearing

by Nena Perry-Brown

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A rendering of the McMillan Reservoir redevelopment

In advance of the Zoning Commission (ZC)‘s remand hearing for the McMillan Reservoir redevelopment next week, the development team is proffering additional rationale for the height and density of portions of the development.

One of the primary concerns that was raised was the height and density of the healthcare building on Parcel 1 and whether two floors could be removed in exchange for shifting that density — 190,000 square feet worth — elsewhere on the site. In response, Vision McMillan Partners (VMP) has submitted documents showing the impact of removing even a single floor and what the trade-offs would be to adjusting the massing.

Newly submitted documents illustrate the site constraints and considerations that inform the placement of the healthcare building, including the concrete filter beds; Olmsted Walk; Healing Gardens; Half Street; the North Service Court; and the National Capital Planning Commission’s desire to ensure “visual separation” between the building and the Capitol Dome, leading the architect to shift the western edge of the building by 15 feet.

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A rendering of a Healing Garden off Michigan Avenue

Ultimately, VMP’s compromise is to reduce the building by two feet by shifting the floor-to-floor heights on the upper two levels. The applicant believes the building’s height is consistent with the idea of “medium density”. Additionally, the density of the healthcare component was deemed necessary in order to support a grocery anchor, therefore supporting the overall viability of a mixed residential program and the abundance of usable open space.

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A rendering of Olmsted Walk

VMP’s documentation also goes into the evolution of the building’s configuration throughout years of discussion on the future of the site, including its original proposed height of 130 feet being decreased to the current 113 feet. Also, any design alternatives would have to adhere to the basic industrial style currently on the site and the City Beautiful architectural principles ascribed to the site. As designed, the healthcare building design references the bold simplicity of the sand filtration system on-site and relies heavily on the proportions informed by the plinth base-with-setback design.

The plans to redevelop the 25 acre-site of the McMillan Reservoir, located along North Capitol Street between Michigan Avenue and 2501 First Street NW (map), have been hotly debated for years and were dealt a major setback in December when the DC Court of Appeals ruled to remand the project back to ZC. The record was closed for testimony early this summer, making a final decision possible by the end of this year.

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/mcmillan_applicants_respond_to_zoning_commission_concerns_in_advance/12965

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