Nimby Wars Revisited and the development process for DC's McMillan site
Flickr photo by Intangible Arts.
The former McMillan Sand Filtration Plant site is on North Capitol Street, across from the Washington Hospital Center and the McMillan Reservoir, one of the elements of the city's water system, and is about 1.5 miles from the Brookland Metrorail Station.
After the water system changed the way it filtered water, the site became surplus and ended up with the National Park Service.
In 1987, DC bought the property, paying money for it, rather than getting it for free if the city would have been willing to turn it into a park.
The site has mouldered ever since, although for not quite the last 10 years the site has been "in play," and going through a development process. I've stayed out of the fight.
But the site is cool, and certainly, innovative parks like the Landscape Park Duisburg Nord (right) in Germany demonstrate it's possible to create really cool destination parks out of industrial architecture ("A showcase of urban renewal," New York Times)..
The plan for development calls for some medical office buildings, apartment buildings, and rowhouses (the area is dominated by the rowhouse type both south and east of the site), complemented by a park with a recreation center, designed and paid for by the development group ("How Much History Should Be Preserved At D.C.'s McMillan Site?," WAMU/NPR).
Note that I think that while the development project "should" pay for the project, I believe it should be designed and operated by the DC Department of Parks and Recreation. I also pointed out in 2008 ("McMillan Reservoir development issues") that development of the site should be accompanied by improvements in the local transit infrastructure, specifically the creation of a streetcar line from Woodley Park to Brookland (and preferably beyond, see "Will streetcars really return to the Capital City?").
Nimby Wars book. I wrote about the book Nimby Wars a few years ago (" When the enemy of my enemy is my friend"). Written by principals of and published by the Saint Consulting firm, a company that works to engender support or opposition to development projects (frequently they are retained by supermarket companies fighting the entry of Walmart into their markets), I was shocked that they actually published a book outlining how such firms go about doing their work.
Nimby Wars in DC and the McMillan project. In a Nimby Wars type twist, Vision McMillan Partners retained a Baltimore-area firm, Fontaine and Company, to drum up support for their project in the face of ongoing community opposition, led by the Friends of McMillan Park group.
It came out in a City Council hearing that the City's economic development department (Office of the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and Planning) paid for this as a legitimate "pre-development cost" advanced to the project as it works its way through the approval and permitting process.
Spin Doctors," on the various ins and outs of the deal, including the concern and skepticism expressed by Council Chairman Mendelson and others.
The "Create McMillan Park" sign campaign was created by Vision McMillan Partners in response to the "Save McMillan Park" signs designed and distributed by Friends of McMillan Park. Image from the Bloomingdale Neighborhood blog.