Thursday, December 11, 2008

mcmillan site meeting this saturday

click on the image to the right to view the flyer for this weekend's meeting regarding the proposed development at the mcmillan sand filtration site. i received a paper copy of this flyer in the mail on wednesday, in addition to a PDF via email a few days earlier. here are the important details:

date: saturday, december 13th
time: 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon
location: social hall, trinity university (125 michigan ave. NE)

concept plans for the site will be presented. a presentation has already been given to "select" members of the community, and i've received a copy of that presentation, so i felt some of it should be shared with the wider community so you can get a feel for what you'll see at the meeting this saturday.

this image shows a proposed site plan. note that first street is at the top, channing is at the left, michigan at the right, and north capitol at the bottom.

open space in the proposed site plan is highlighted here.

this artwork shows the southernmost park area, as view from north capitol street.

this artwork shows some of the retail frontage at the corner of the northernmost row of filtration towers and a proposed road that would be halfway between north capitol and first street (half street NW?)

finally, here's a ground-level view from the southwest corner of the retail stretch and what i'm calling half street NW.

for the most part, i like what i'm seeing so far. i don't know if i would lay out the rowhouses on the southern third of the site the way the plan shows currently, and i hope there's more differentiation at the northern half of the site to break up facades and make things visually interesting, but since this is a first draft, let's all go to the meeting on saturday and discuss things!


Sean Hennessey said...

i can't make it on saturday.. but hope for a full recap here!

dano said...

take notes, let us know how it goes. ive got to be in richmond tonight and probably wont be back.

and i agree, the rowhouse layout is a bit wonky and it appears that they are trying to make the mid-rise interesting with facades to appear as separate buildings. my guess is there is parking in there somewhere... im hoping underground or a well disguised structure. parking tends to muck things up and be the worst part of mixed use developments.

it would be nice to have this site used and would make 1st st safer.

Paul Kirk said...

This is a terrible plan. Only one cross street? Anyone who lives near Channing and First Streets knows that these streets are already unable to process the traffic generated by the hospital complex. These streets cannot possibly handle the increase in traffic with this amount of development. As the government is leaving the development plan to corporations, they are devoted 100% to maximizing square footage, which will be the only thing that contributes to their profit. They are trying to sell the development by talking about sushi restaurants and sexy retail, but they have no control over who may eventually rent retail space. It may be Popeyes, and Murrays and check cashing stores. They don't talk very much about the subsidized housing that will go in near Channing Street. (This will be good news for the crack house in the middle of Channing.) Why is it that liberal Democrats can't stand the thought of drilling in the tundra of northern Alaska, but they have no problem turning one of the few green spaces in the city into concrete and asphalt? No drilling at McMillan!

dano said...

Paul, it seems to me that the intent is to have N. Capitol and Michigan carry the traffic load for non-locals. also, i would hope that they have a metro shuttle since CUA and Rhode Island are both nearby. the other streets need to stay the same as a purposeful pinch point. kind of like 66 on a small scale.

whats wrong with Popeye's? that shit is delicious. and Murray's? people sometimes need cheap stuff. a discount store isnt always a bad thing. do you seriously think that all high end stuff would fly in that neighborhood. a mix of sushi and Popeye's best serves the area and me.

as far as subsidized housing goes, its better that the stuff on Elm. i have met some of the nicest people since moving into that very mixed area. the bias against getting lower income people into homes is silly. plus, how many people are going to buy half million dollar homes there? mix it up. thats whats i expect and enjoy about this particular part of the district. if you want all high dollar houses and businesses head to Wisconsin Ave... oh, wait, theres a Popeye's just north of the Cathedral.

oh, and what good is green space in my neighborhood that i cant use? and since when do cities draw up development plans? cities review and approve or deny. for lambasting liberals, you seem to want to give the government a lot of work. seems like a classic NIMBY argument.

IMGoph said...

i would also argue, with regards to green space in the city, that it's far better to build 1200 units of housing in a space that is close in like this than building 1200 units somewhere on the development fringe out in loudon county. in the long run, density closer in is much, much, much greener than any construction further out. saving every 'green' patch in the city isn't smart urbanism, or smart green planning.

dano said...

good point Goph, any news to report from that meeting?

IMGoph said...

yep, i'll have a post up this evening.

Paul Kirk said...


First, I have nothing against low-income housing. In fact, like you, I think it should be mixed in with other housing. I think Ward 5 has plenty already and the next low-income housing projects should be in Georgetown and upper Wisconsin/Connecticut.

After reading your comments, I still have no idea why people think the traffic won't be a problem, nor do I understand why this space should not be made into a park.

Also, city planning is a basic function of government. This plan was first baked up by the corrupt people that supported the NCPC. Hopefully there are enough people who will fight development in an area that is already too dense, with too much crime and too little green space. Count me in favor of oxygen and against more carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and fine particulants.

dano said...

Paul, yes, the city has a master plan and it is their job to make sure zoning makes sense and enforce it. I meant that individual site plans are the developer/builder's responsibility and the city is to approve it or tell them to make corrections. Being that this is at the intersection of 2 large roads, a mixed use development of retail/residential fits the surroundings.

I think that you discourage driving by minimizing parking and providing easy ways to use transit, like extending the G2 bus to terminate there, rather than at 2nd St.

As far as making it a park, there are a couple problems. Who pays to make it safe and usable as a park to the tune of millions? And DC doesnt exactly have the best record of maintaining parks outside of the tourist spots. I do think some more open space in the plan should be included as well as a deal for the private owners to maintain it all. You have to find a balance with the private money building something for the community as well as allowing it to perform for the owners.

Like Goph said, its better to have the density in the city. It is a city after all. The reality of living in a city is density and all the good and bad that go with it.

I would be with you if i really thought this would ruin the neighborhood. Its not a factory or power plant or strip club.

I really hope the discourse at the meeting was this lively!

Anonymous said...

Goph- we need info please! :) Pretty pleaseee

Paul Kirk said...

This is not an ordinary piece of property. Any city with any sense of responsibility would want to plan its last 25 acre green space rather than allowing the benefitting developer to draw up the plan. Especially given the low-ball 50-60 mil in public funds that will be needed to build sewers, streets and other public infrastructure. This city is WAY behind on its current responsibilities regarding water and sewer. But, with the money that developers contribute to politicians like Fenty and Thomas, it is much more profitable for Democrat leaders to hand public property over to developers than it is spend money on cops, schools and just fixing all the things that are broken. As for whether DC is good at maintaining parks, it depends on the park. Up in the nice neighborhoods, the parks are maintained quite nicely. The main issue, and the issue given the least attention, is the traffic. First Street runs through the heart of Bloomingdale. The developer has seen the existing data showing that traffic is already at capacity. Their solution? Timed traffic lights down First Street. So, if you like North Capitol, you will love the developer's vision for First Street. Don't forget, they don't care. They don't live here. They just want to maximize square footage and parlay as much of this public space into their personal profit. Thole thing was set up under the Marion Barry Administration-era NCPC. They will continue making cash contributions to Fenty and Thomas, then take away this green space to make way for a Murray's, Popeye's, some cell phone stores and some cash-checking/pawn shops.

Anonymous said...

Paul, I understand where you're coming from, but I just don't think this is a good location for a huge park the size of the current plot (the only use I could see for it would be as destination soccer/football/baseball fields and that would destroy the historic fabric of the site). It's just in an extremely awkward location to be utilized by anyone but the very local residents. Simply put, it's not the highest and best use. Now, if we were arguing about the Old Soldiers Home west lawn area, then I say that is the perfect place for a large park open. But between North Capitol Street and the fortified reservoir? Not so much. Just my opinion of course, but mine counts as much as yours.

I actually really like the plan. I was hoping they'd incorporate a large retail anchor, and perhaps they still might. As much as people hate Walmart, I would not be opposed because it would help out people of little means to provide as much as possible for the least amount of money. Costco would be nice, too, but that ain't gonna happen.

This is going to require a public subsidy, but in the long run provide a huge amount of tax revenue. Remember that every office and condo building brings in many millions of dollars per years into city coffers to fund the building of the schools and parks that's happening all over the city at record pace. Just another consideration... which I know you will not be swayed by Paul, but I think it's important to mention.

Anonymous said...

Anything they choose to do with the site will detrimentally affect quality of life in Bloomingdale. One of the reasons that the neighborhood has been a small "oasis" is that we didn't have an active retail corridor to attract vagrant, drug dealers, and the rest. My prediction for the "upscale" retail at the McMillan site:
- dollar store
- nails salon
- check cashing place
And then throw in the traffic, crowds of teens hanging out in the parking lots, etc...

But I don't think a park works either. That will also attract a sketchy element and become a haven for the homeless and drug dealers.

I think the best solution would be to leave the fence up until the neighborhood actually "turns the corner". It will be at least a decade before Bloomingdale can attract truly upscale retail options, and the site can be designed in a way that's sustainable.

Ken said...

Hey Imgoph; why is DCMud not on your list of blogs? Its the coolest blog in town, and updated daily.

-an anonymous source in now way related to said excellent blog.

IMGoph said...

ken: you most absolutely are in my blogroll! i wouldn't dream of leaving you guys out! just turns out that i have you listed as "the metro urban diary". what would you like me to change that to?

Paul Kirk said...

First, the argument that people should be packed as tightly into cities as possible to free up open space elsewhere is ludicrous. This urban area is already packed too tightly. We already have oo many people with little or no income, too much concrete and asphalt, not enough oxygen and green space. In case you haven't lived here for more than six months, Bloomingdale has a crisis situation with insufficient stormwater runoff. Basements flood all the time, and that is WITH 25 acres of absorption at McMillan.

For anyone who says they care about the environment, spend some time walking around the green space and you will see migratory birds, rabbits, snakes and who knows, maybe an endangered species or two that has found its last refuge in the city. This green space will NEVER be available again if it is developed. And, the thought that the development decisions are being left to the developer, who sole interest is maximizing billable square footage is a sad commentary on city management. This is such a unique site and the city is willing to give it away for such a mundane and counter-productive purpose.

Usually the artists renderings of designs at least look good on paper. The towers, which I believe do have some beauty, look completely overwhelmed by just another retail, corporate set of concrete and glass office buildings. If they cared at all, they would have insisted on brick buildings to give the whole place an Old Town feel. As for the "park space", it was obviously designed with one thing in mind-maximizing profit-making square footage. The parks are essentially the land between towers which the developer has a duty to preserve. They did not design a park that is usable for runners, baseball diamonds, or kite flying. I don't blame the developers for putting profits above public purpose. The developers don't live here so they won't notice when First Street turns into another North Capitol Street, more basements get flooded and crime travels north fed by more targets and significantly more low-income housing in a neighborhood that has more than its share. I blame Fenty and Thomas. Shame on them for pocketing the campaign contributions and looking the other way while this precious, publicy-owned green space is turned into asphalt and concrete. No drilling at McMillan.

IMGoph said...

paul: from what i understand, stormwater issues in bloomingdale are much better now that wasa has cleaned some of the storm drains in the neighborhood that were clogged.

throwing out the bit about endangered species is one heck of a non-sequitir. are there endangered species there? do you have proof? i think you're just trying to make people fell guilty for some thing.

and the "no drillin' at mcmillan" rhyme is too cute to a fault. maybe we should get sarah palin here to say that in a PSA?

Paul Kirk said...

IMGoph-The stormwater runoff problem is still an issue. In fact, the city's entire combined sewer overflow system needs to be replaced. For those who SAY they care about the environment, they should be insisting that we stop dumping all manner of pollutants in the anacostia by replacing the entire system BEFORE we tax it with more private development which will certainly add to the problem. It is physics, the pipes are all the same size (and sad condition) and there will be 1) thousands of additional toilet, and 2) removal of 25 acres of absorption, replaced by 19 acres of concrete and asphalt.

Also, with regard to whether endangered species live there, isn't it enough that this is a major stopping point for migratory birds? I have seen birds-of-prey, rabbits, salamanders and lots of other plants and animals. We would find out if there were any endangered species during the Environmental Impact Study which would be required if development like this was being done out West, or in a responsible State, or by Republican developers. But, there will be no formal EIS because the skids have been greased and there are too many buddies who will make too much money.

No drilling at McMillan!

dano said...

i havent heard of any stormwater crisis... and i happen to live in a basement in bloomingdale. the only water problem i have had was the drain in front of my door was clogged. i removed the leaves etc. and problem solved.

Paul, im not pro development, but i dont see all the problems you do with this. you do raise valid concerns like the minimal green space and traffic, but i think these can be addressed by revisions rather than dumping the whole project.

oh, and DC has a lot of park land compared to the city area.( that area now does no one any good. we cant use it. it brings in no tax revenue. its currently un-utilized and in an urban environment, use is always better than disuse.

IMGoph said...

paul: of course, everyone knows that the combined sewer overflows are an issue, and that is being dealt with. honestly, you're setting up a lot of logical landmines in your arguments.

you're forcing anyone who wants to discuss this to respond to your concerns before discussing the project in a more in-depth nature, and once a concern has been dealt with, you bring up another. it sounds a lot like people who throw up roadblock after roadblock in an attempt to obfuscate and keep the meat of the matter from being dealt with.

dano said...

man, dragging combined runoff into this now too? i cant even come up with an analogy for that. most major cities throughout the world have this problem. its addressed most easily by combined treatment and, where possible, installing separate systems. however, most of DC was built before it was widely know the problems we are cause. and this stuff is only released in instances of high flow during heavy rain. combined runoff is a global problem, i dont think that can be a deciding factor in this.

Anonymous said...

FWIW: There are raccoons living on R St.


Bloomingdale has a stormwater runoff crisis.

IMGoph said...

i think that you people who describe the stormwater runoff issue as a "crisis" need to get a grip on what the word "crisis" means.

if we had rampant cholera, like in zimbabwe, or if we had a sniper in the neighborhood, that would be a crisis.

living with the knowledge that maybe, a couple times a year, if conditions are truly right, you'll get a couple inches of water in your basement....that's not a crisis. it sucks, but life isn't always fair. you work to correct it, but calling it a crisis could sound like the "boy who cried wolf" if there actually is a real crisis.

Paul Kirk said...

As I said, the current combined sewer overflow system (like others built in older cities), needs to be replaced. Right now, oil, hospital waste, feces, dead animals etc are dumped into the Anacostia each time it rains for more than an hour. The city should be spending money on cleaning up the current environmental messes before bulldozing the most significant green space parcel in the inventory.

I just don't understand why people want low-income housing and check-cashing stores in a place that provides oxygen and refuge for what little wildlife we have in the city.

IMGoph said...

paul: i'm going to ask you to stop with the strawmen, now. there will be no check-cashing stores in this development. those were banished by the council last year. they are not legal, and those that we had in shaw, for example, have long since closed up shop.

the city needs low-income housing. i don't know what you have against the poor, but they are not animals. this will be a mixed-income site, with most likely 15% of the units having some kind of subsidy. that's not a lot. your fear-mongering over some of these things is unappreciated, and counter-productive.

Paul Kirk said...

FACT - The developer had NO control over who will rent space and just about ANY store can put a sign in the window saying they cash checks.

Also, I take great exception to being described as being against poor people. And, you are the one upping the rhetoric. Who referred to poor people as animals?

As I stated explicitly in my earlier post:

I have nothing against low-income housing. In fact, like you, I think it should be mixed in with other housing. I think Ward 5 has plenty already and the next low-income housing projects should be in Georgetown and upper Wisconsin/Connecticut.

IMGoph said...

paul:sure, and any store can put a sign in the window that says "50¢ to kiss the pope".

doesn't make it a pope-kissing store.

fact is, there are no check cashing stores anymore, and you keep claiming that's something that we'll have to worry about. do you really think that's going to happen here? really? the rents are going to be too high, my friend. they are not going to be leasing to stores that cater to those on the lower rungs of the economic ladder. count on it.

you find me a large, undeveloped parcel in georgetown, chevy chase, tenleytown, or AU park where we can put a significant number of subsidized housing units, and i'll get right on that.

dano said...

this project would bring in tax money so that the city could upgrade the water treatment facilities.

i would have more concern with respect to 'green space' and 'oxygen' if there was a more there then grass and crumbling out of date infrastructure and few weeds. i would see a wooded lot or a wetland as something to get excited about. as Goph said, its better to use urban land than develop untouched lands in the exurbs.

every city has raccoons and other wildlife as well as a few damp basements.

currently this 'valuable green space' provides nothing to the community other than a no man's land between channing and michigan.

Anonymous said...

Lots of red herrings from Paul Kirk. Storm water runoff? Migratory birds? The cemetery and the reservoir park property still provide ample green space for these concerns. I don't see how the sand filtration site are the lynch pin to either of these issues he raises.

Anonymous said...

Where did Paul's last comment go? Guess you didn't like what he had to say. Heil IMGoph!

Paul has his own blog now:

IMGoph said...

to the anonymous poster from sunday at 3: i didn't delete any of paul's posts. there are two mcmillan threads going on this blog at the same time, and his latest rambling post is still over on the other one, which is here.

Adam said...

Do you know if the meeting scheduled for January 24 took place? Any updates if it did? Any idea where we can find more info about it or the District/Developer's plans?