Please Submit Testimony for McMillan Park HPRB Hearing by March 19, 2013

DC Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) has scheduled a hearing for March 28, 2013 to discuss both the DC Water plan and the revised VMP plan for McMillan Park. Written public testimonies for the hearing are due at close of business on Tuesday, March 19. Please use the following information to develop your testimony and submit it to the point of contact identified below.

DC Water Project


Regarding the DC Water Infrastructure Project at McMillan Park, the position of Friends of McMillan Park is that the two cells proposed for demolition in the southwest corner, cells 25 and 26, are structurally sound, and that structurally unsound cells exist two or three cells east in the southeast corner of the site. We understand and support the need for the First Street tunnel to mitigate sewer backups in Bloomingdale. We, however, would like to ask the supporters of the integrity of McMillan Park to write an email to Steve Callcott, the project’s point of contact at the Historic Preservation Office, requesting that DC Water utilize the two unsound cells in the southeast corner for their tunneling work. This adjustment would allow the water infrastructure project to proceed with minimal change and sound parts of the Site to remain preserved. Contact detailssteve.callcott@dc.gov, 202-741-5247. Please submit the testimony via email before the close of business on Tuesday, March 19, 2013.

Revised Vision McMillan Partners (VMP) Plan for McMillan Development

The revised VMP plan would still result in the loss of McMillan Park as a unique place distinct from similar developments all throughout the city. The Preservation Principles for McMillan Park established by the DC Historic Preservation Office prescribe that any design for the McMillan Park site should be based on exploration of adaptive reuse of underground (and above ground) structures and a substantial portion of the site to be used for recreation and open space keeping a sense of the open space character of the site. 

The revised VMP plan fails to foresee any original or alternative and adaptive reuse of the silos and would cause destruction of the majority of the underground historic cells. The functional integrity of the above-ground buildings and the underground filter cells, respecting the originally used materials and maintaining the sense of place through a large open park area on the site as well as the important view corridors that the current open space possesses should be the basis of the design. These characteristics remain absent in the revised VMP design. The revised plan still fails to meet the criteria set forth by the DC Historic Preservation Office, a few examples of which include:

  • No investigation has been done for the potential of re-use of the above and underground ground structures. VMP simply mentions that this is not financially feasible without providing public evidence for proper third party verification.
  • The revised VMP plan does not present any ideas about what types of possibilities exist for adaptive re-use, nor does it follow the earlier recommendations of HPRB to make the design guidelines less generic and to provide a clear inventory and review of the key items that need to be persevered at the Site.
  • While the revised plan does foresee green space, it is insufficient and it insufficiently takes into account the view corridors of the site. The revised plan lacks a clear inventory of the key view corridors from the site that should be protected. The current proposed park area is too small to maintain a strong sense of the property’s park-like character. Furthermore, the different park areas should be integrated with the historic structures.
  • The revised VMP plan still fails to integrate the community needs and concerns in the planning for adaptive re-use and preservation of the site structures and to maintain the sense of place on the site. The VMP team continues to claim that their plan is the best compromise possible and the only financially viable option. However, the reality remains that the VMP planning process lacks evidence-based decision making and proper inventory of the expressed concerns and how they were (or were not) incorporated in the revised plan.

The proposed alternative plan for McMillan Park prepared by Collage City Studio should be considered as a serious alternative to the plans currently on the table.

Friends of McMillan Park encourages all supporters of the integrity of McMillan Park to write an email to Steve Callcott, the project’s point of contact at the Historic Preservation Office, requesting that the HPRB reject the revised VMP development plan or at least instruct the designer to redevelop the plan in line with the points made above, in line with the HPO preservation principles, and based on the draft Historic Preservation Plan of the District of Columbia. Contact details: steve.callcott@dc.gov, 202-741-5247. Please submit testimony via email before the close of business on Tuesday, March 19, 2013.

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