For some time now, the city has planned to redevelop the old McMillan Sand Filtration Site, a former water filtration plant located south of Michigan Avenue (which becomes Irving Street) and west of North Capitol Street -- just east of Howard University's campus and the McMillan Reservoir.
The city has long planned to redevelop it with condos, apartments, offices, retail and parks, including a Harris Teeter, but lately opponents have turned up their volume, arguing it should be redeveloped into a park. Here's more on the development plans from the plan's own website and from Urban Turf, a real estate blog. Currently the site is closed to the public, although there used to be tours which apparently were awesome.
Last week, the Friends of McMillan Park stuffed a meeting about the plan -- basically, they're arguing that the city shouldn't declare the land "surplus" so it can be sold to developers. They prefer restoring it into a park. (You can see their press release below.) They also have a petition with about 2,000 signatures.
The site is pretty interesting to look at, even from afar -- there are rows of giant brick towers, hillocks in the grass next to them, and other interesting features. The grounds were designed by famous landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted Jr., who also worked on the National Mall, White House grounds, Jefferson Memorial, and a lot more (his father designed Central Park.)
He was also a part of the 1902 McMillan Commission, which looked into ways to plan DC's parks and led to the National Mall we recognize today, with the Smithsonian museums, Lincoln Memorial, and the like. Both McMillan Reservoir and the Sand Filtration Site got their name from Sen. James McMillan, who started the commission.
Personally, it's sort of hard to balance the two -- the McMillan Site is a really interesting historical place, but at the same time, DC has a real shortage of housing and it's the probably the biggest open plot of land in the city, certainly the biggest not too far from downtown. What do you think?
Here's the Friends of McMillan Park's press release.
Community Says “NO SURPLUS!” for McMillan Park
Posted on June 7, 2013 by WHY
Overwhelming Support for Park, Against District Plan
Community members from the areas surrounding the Historic McMillan Sand Filtration Sitecame out in full force last night to declare loud and clear to the Gray Administration thatMcMillan Park should not be declared surplus and sold to private developers, and thatMcMillan should be restored to its previous glory as a public park.
More than 110 people came to the surplus meeting, over 40 people testified, and only about 3 of those people testified FOR Mayor Gray’s privatization proposal. Shiv Newaldass, the Project Manager at the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED), convened the meeting, and Jeff Miller, Director of Real Estate at DMPED, was also present. Conspicuously absent were Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, Deputy Mayor Victor Hoskins, and Mayor Vincent Gray – the current plan’s biggest supporters.
Those who spoke at the meeting reflected the racial, age, and length-of-residence diversity of the surrounding communities. With minimal contradiction, the vast majority who testified said that the land should be kept a park with its historic identity intact for the neighborhood, Ward 5, and the District. Pointing to the convener, the crowd demanded that DMPED and the city government stop disrespecting their positions. Phil Blair, an older gentleman, said that he has been coming to these meetings and appearing as “the grumpy old man” who opposes development of the site for over twenty years, but he was happy to see last night that he was one of many grumpy old men. A few shouted out, “Mayor! Tear down this fence!” Long-time resident, Wanda Foster, who has lived on the 2900 block of North Capitol since 1986, said that she enjoys her view of sunsets over McMillan Park each night from her home and that she hopes to stay there and someday pass this gift to her grandchildren.
The speakers also strongly challenged DMPED and Mr. Newaldass for not listening to them before in previous meetings and questioned whether their testimony would mean anything now. Many also noted that while there was no microphone or recording equipment present for the meeting, two MPD officers were there for the entire evening.