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McMillan development gets approval from Zoning Commission

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Expect apartments, townhomes, a grocery store, community center, and much more

Rendering via Vision McMillan Partners

Once again, the Zoning Commission has approved the redevelopment of the McMillan sand filtration site, as first reported by UrbanTurf.

The project plans 531 apartments and a 52,000-square-foot Harris Teeter from Jair Lynch as well as 146 townhouses from EYA. There are also plans for an eight-acre park, 17,500-square-foot community center, and roughly 1 million square feet towards medical office space from Trammell Crow.

In December 2016, the D.C. Court of Appeals vacated the Zoning Commission’s approval of the project only one day after the groundbreaking. The court’s decision found that the D.C. Zoning Commission did not adequately address how the redevelopment would impact the nearby neighborhoods.

In the ruling, the D.C. Court of Appeals wrote, “The project is inconsistent with the District’s Comprehensive Plan and that the Commission failed to adequately explain its conclusions.”

During the recent Zoning Commission public hearing, Commissioner Michael Turnbull said, “The PUD [Planned Unit Development] needs to be looked at as a whole and broken down into the bits and pieces of it to totally give an analysis of it; it is the aggregate that gives it the character.”

In the meeting, the Zoning Commission justified the density, height, and use of each building. For the planned healthcare building, the commissioners argued that while the height is higher than what a typical eight-story building is, it is necessary for the medical use. The density of the Parcel 1 building is also necessary to support a grocery store and affordable housing, according to the Zoning Commission.

““If they didn’t have the grocery, then the senior housing component becomes less viable because proximity to a grocery is critical for senior housing; otherwise, you wind up with all that extra transportation associated with helping people get food to their homes,” said Commissioner Peter May.

In March 2017, Vision McMillan Partners (VMP), the development team behind the planned redevelopment of McMillan, issued a statement, saying, “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.”

From the beginning, the project has faced opposition from locals. In an interview with the Washington Business Journal, the Friends of McMillan Park (FOMP), a group of community volunteers against the development, said that they hoped for the site to become a park in stead. They argued that the proposed plans are an "affront to the community” and the result of an "incestuous relationship between business and government."

When the D.C. Court of Appeals blocked the project in December 2016, FOMP board member Kirby Vining told Curbed DC that it was “tremendously good news.”

McMillan Reservoir Development Gets the Zoning Green Light—Again [UrbanTurf]