Vision McMillan Partners Give Presentation to Park View Residents on Proposed Redevelopment Plans and Community Impacts

Posted April 18, 2014 by Kent
Categories: Development

Tags: ,

Guest post from Community members Dianne Chambers, Rashida Brown and David Do

On Monday April 7, an informal Park View neighborhood happy hour drew a large and enthusiastic crowd of more than 80 people who came out to hear about the redevelopment plans for the historic McMillan Sand Filtration site. The event was held at Mothership on Georgia Ave, NW Washington DC.

Supporters of the project and members of “Neighbors for McMillan,” David Do, Dianne Chambers and Rashida Brown, hosted the event and invited the Vision McMillan Partners to Park View to speak with members of the community about the proposed redevelopment plans. This event included a presentation from the Vision McMillan Partners for residents to learn more about the proposed plans currently in the process of moving through D.C.’s zoning commission. Park View community members and interested parties met the developers and asked questions throughout the night. Special thanks to Stephan Boillon and his staff at Mothership for the great venue and delicious food! Brianne Nadeau, the Ward 1 Democratic Nominee for the D.C. Council made a special appearance and remarks in support of the VMP plans.

The overall tone and feedback from the crowd was positive. Park View neighbors expressed an overwhelming amount of support for the project. However, concerns about traffic impact and congestion along the Ward 1 boarders of the site were raised that night.

Vision McMillan rendering(Envision McMillan rendering)

Neighbor for McMillan and Park View resident, Rashida Brown, welcomed everyone and gave some opening remarks sharing her story about why she is in support of the VMP’s plans. She urged Park View to have a “seat at the table” and be more informed, involved and engaged in the process. She stressed the importance of attending the next PUD hearings throughout the month of May to share input. Historically, residents from Ward 5 have attended the VMP-sponsored community meetings and provided testimony on the proposed plans (quite often in opposition). Ms. Brown mentioned the positive impacts and benefits for the Park View community.

Aakash Thakkar, representing EYA, thanked Park View for the invitation and mentioned the plan is closer than ever to seeing it come to fruition. It has taken about 30 years to get real traction on this project, but he feels the current plan is a good fit for the community as it preserves the historical integrity of the site. Tania Jackson, representing VMP, discussed her community advocacy and organizing efforts to help move the VMP plans forward.

Anne Corbett, Project Director for Vision McMillan Partners presented a plan that includes both market-rate and affordable housing (town homes, multi-family and senior apartments). At least 10% of the units will be set aside for affordable housing. There will also be a 50,000 sf grocery store, health care facilities, a community center with pool, and an 8 acre park.

A slide displaying the new McMillan site at night showcased a new lighting design and gives the impression that this will be a very welcoming environment at all hours. One of the biggest themes of the presentation is the fact that the plan honors the site by preserving its historic integrity while at the same time, providing much needed amenities for the community at large.

The information provided was very positively received. Most of the residents seemed pleased to hear about what is on the horizon. Park View neighbor, David Do commented on the positive impact more affordable housing will have in our community. He also mentioned that the grocery store will help provide a much needed resource to the area’s food desert. The full team took questions which have been linked to this post.

If you would like to support the McMillan project, the next step is to come out and testify at the PUD/Zoning Commission hearings planned for May. You can get more information and sign up for the hearings at: and

 Dates for the PUD hearings are as follows:

  • May 1, 2014 (Thursday) @ 6pm – Stage 1 Master Plan, Open Spaces and Parks, and Community Center (Parcels 6 and 7)
  • May 5, 2014 (Monday) @ 6pm – Multi-Family/Retail Building (Parcel 4) and Townhouses (Parcel 5)
  • May 8, 2014 (Thursday) @ 6pm – Healthcare Facility (Parcel 1)
  • May 13, 2014 (Thursday)@ 6pm – Continuation hearing (if needed)

 PUD hearings will be held at:

Jerrily R. Kress Memorial Hearing Room
441 4th St., NW Suite 220-South
Washington, DC 20001

Soldiers’ Home History: Regina Jones, First Female Resident

Posted April 17, 2014 by Kent
Categories: Armed Forces Retirement Home, History, Lincoln's Cottage

Tags: ,
Regina C. Jones, first female resident at the Soldiers' Home.

Regina C. Jones, first female resident at the Soldiers’ Home.

At 10 a.m. on September 2, 1955 — 104 years after the Soldiers’ Home was established in 1851 — the 1,800 all-male institution ended as it opened its doors to its first woman resident. The woman with this honor was Miss Regina C. Jones, a 47-year-old former Woman’s Army Corps private first class.

Miss Jones was in the Army from 1943 to 1947. She was stationed in Egypt and developed cataracts in both eyes in 1945. Doctors believed the condition was caused by the glare of the sun and sand. Her reduced vision led to a series of falls, stumbles, and hitting her shins. After one event, a blood clot developed stopping circulation in one of her legs resulting in its amputation.

Jones stated she started thinking about entering the Soldiers’ Home when a friend read a news article about the opening of the Anderson Cottage on the grounds for World War II WACS with service-connected disability (The Soldiers’ Home had decided to open to WACs in November 1954).

Upon entrance to the Soldiers’ Home, Jones settled in comfortably in private quarters in the Anderson Cottage. Jones was the sole female resident at the Soldiers’ Home for a while, with the first prospect of another WAC joining the home coming three months after her arrival.


Are You Looking for an Easter Activity for the Kids This Weekend? Then This Might Fit the Bill.

Posted April 17, 2014 by Kent
Categories: Holidays, Sports leisure and entertainment

Tags: ,

Here’s something fun to do with the kids this weekend if you don’t already have Easter plans.
Easter Meridian Hill Girard Park

Disposition of Public Land Behind 3212 Georgia Moves Forward

Posted April 16, 2014 by Kent
Categories: Development

Map showing location of Square 2892, Lot 0105. The hatched area shows planned project replacing Petworth Liquor.

Map showing location of Square 2892, Lot 0105. The hatched area shows planned project replacing Petworth Liquor.

On Monday, April 14, the Department of General Services (DGS) was finally able to hold their public meeting on the disposition of the public land in the alley behind 3212 Georgia Avenue. This meeting  was originally scheduled for November 25, 2013, and then rescheduled for February 13, 2014. Both meetings were cancelled due to snow.

According to the presentation and slide deck that was distributed at the meeting, the property is being disposed because:

  • It’s inadequate for continued District Government use;
  • The building and land would require substantial capital investment for redevelopment; and,
  • The property is not viable for the District to redevelop.

DGS is in the process of pulling together the disposition materials for submission to the DC Council, which must approve the disposition. Once submitted to the Council, they have a 90 day review period.

In all likelihood, I would expect the Council to support this disposition and, ultimately, for the parcel to be sold to the developer of the planned unit development in the works for 3212-3218 Georgia Avenue.

For anyone who wants to know more about this disposition, DGS is accepting comments or feedback from residents until Monday April 21, 2014. Emails can be sent to Regina Payton.

This small alley building and its lot are behind 3214-3218 Georgia. It is currently unused.

This small alley building and its lot are behind 3214-3218 Georgia. It is currently owned by the District of Columbia and unused.

Ward 1 Budget Town Hall Meeting Scheduled for May 6

Posted April 15, 2014 by Kent
Categories: District Budget


At the beginning of April, Mayor Gray’s FY15 budget documents were posted on the Web site for the Office of the Chief Financial Officer. It is worth a look. During the past several years, the section outlaying the five year capital improvement plan has been of particular interest to me as it documents planned school modernization projects.

In our area, it is notable that the future modernization phases for the Bruce-Monroe @ Park View school are no longer reflected in the five-year projection. During the FY14 Budget Town Hall meeting, it was learned that the remaining modernization schedule for the school had slipped from FY2016/2018 to FY2018/2020. While the absence of the school from the FY15 budget documents may seem dire, projected capital projects can move in and out of budgets from year to year and it is very possible that this project can show up again in the FY16 budget.

With regards to the Park View School building modernization, I have been in close communication with DCPS, DGS, and the budget office and have requested more details and background information as it relates to the school’s modernization. Chancellor Henderson has responded that “Commissioner Boese will receive an official response to his correspondence as soon as possible,” and I’ll share what I learn when it arrives. One bit of great news that Chancellor Henderson has also shared in advance of DCPS’s response is that FY14 money has been identified to address Bruce-Monroe @ Park View’s ADA compliance issues this summer. These improvements will be two years earlier than originally planned. 

Nearby Raymond and Harriet Tubman Elementary schools are also both in the FY15 budget and listed for FY19 modernizations. Here again, when compared to last year, Harriet Tubman’s FY2016/2019 has been pushed back solely to 2019.

All-in-all, there are probably a lot of questions about the budget. Like previous years, Mayor Gray is hosting a series of budget town hall meetings in each Ward so residents can learn more about his budget and ask questions about changes to the budget. The date for Ward 1′s meeting is May 6th. The flier below contains all the details you need to know to attend the event.

2014 Budget Town Hall meeting

Development Proposed for Former Hebrew Home, 1125 Spring Road NW

Posted April 14, 2014 by Kent
Categories: Architecture, Development, Historic Landmarks, Housing

Tags: , , , ,

The District of Columbia Housing Authority is currently working on a development concept to breath new life into the vacant Hebrew Home for the Aged building — located at 1125 Spring Road. While the Hebrew Home campus includes the buildings at 1125 Spring Road and 1131 Spring Road, the Housing Authority is only focused on the large central building at this time.

As part of the public outreach process for this concept, D.C. Housing Authority’s Alastair Smith, Development Project Manager, attended the April 9th ANC 1A meeting and gave an overview of the current plan. The dual purpose of the presentation was to gather community input for consideration. As the property is located on the Ward 4 side of Spring Road, the D.C. Housing authority is planning to make a similar presentation before ANC 4C at their May 14th meeting. This provides another opportunity for community participation at this stage of the proposal.

Hebrew Home(Partial view of the former Hebrew Home, looking north from 10th Street, NW)

The plan as presented is to renovate the building for affordable/workforce housing. The current estimate is that it could support between 70 and 80 units in a variety of sizes. In this case, affordability was described as being up to 60% AMI (Area Median Income) at the high-end, but with units being available at many income levels and not just at the 60% level. According to current AMI data, this would put the 60% figure around $63,000 at this time. The plan is also to create a property that is privately owned and managed.

As indicated above, this proposal is very early in the process. The D.C. Housing authority is currently working with engineers and architects to fine tune a plan. The property is also owned by the District of Columbia which once used the facility as a behavioral and mental health care facility. Before the D.C. Housing Authority could move forward with any project, the D.C. Council would need to review and approve the transfer of control to the D.C. Housing authority. Optimistically, the timeline would be for all of the necessary plans and approvals to be completed in 2014, a start date in 2015, and a completion 18 months later in 2016/2017.

Among the comments the D.C. Housing Authority received from the community & 1A Commissioners was that the AMI for the Washington Metro Area was much higher than the AMI for the District of Columbia alone, and that to truly make the building affordable for District residents this should be taken into account. Also, the residential character of the surrounding neighborhood, with a neighboring school and recreation center/playground could make the building attractive to families, so it would be desirable to have units that could support more than a single couple without children. These comments, and others, seemed to be received favorable.

The ANC invited the D.C. Housing Authority to return to future meetings and provide updates on the project as the proposal moves forward, which the Authority agreed to do.


Two Early Photographs Showing Aftermath of 1865 Smithsonian Fire

Posted April 11, 2014 by Kent
Categories: History

Tags: ,

I decided to end the week with something on the lighter side. Here are two carte de visite photographs that date to  shortly after March 7, 1865, and which show the aftermath of the fire that ravaged the Smithsonian Castle. The photographer for both photos was George D. Wakely.

According to the Smithsonian Institution Archives, on the afternoon of January 24, 1865, “a large fire erupted in the Smithsonian Institution Building … destroying multiple sections of the building and their collections.” The Smithsonian’s first Secretary, Joseph Henry “had chosen to keep costs down during the Castle’s initial construction from 1847–1855 by only fire-proofing some areas.” But to reduce the risk of fire he enforced some precautions to prevent them: “he prohibited smoking and the carrying of exposed flames, maintained a night watch, and stationed buckets of water around the building. Despite these safeguards, a fire started between the ceiling and roof of the main hall when workmen in the second floor Picture Gallery accidentally inserted a stove pipe into the brick lining of the building instead of into a flue.” You can read Mary Henry’s (daughter of Joseph) account of the fire here.

Smithsonian 1865(The Smithsonian Castle after the January 1865 fire. View from the northwest. Notice missing roof. Photograph from authors collection.)

Below is a view of the castle after the fire from the southwest. It actually provides a better idea  of the extent of the damage.

Smithsonian 1865(Photograph from authors collection.)

An online exhibition of Stereoviews depicting the Smithsonian Castle, one of which is this view, again provides a great description of what is shown in this image. The view again shows that the “main building is roofless and portions of the temporary roof inserted above the window ledges are visible protruding from the window openings. The octagonal tower is windowless, as are the two north towers, the south tower, and the connecting section between the south tower and the main building. The upper third of the south tower is missing (it was pulled down immediately after the fire) and is covered by a temporary wooden roof. A pile of bricks and a temporary work shed are seen at the base of the south tower.”

Reconstruction of the a new, permanent roof began in the spring of 1867, this time built from fire-proof materials.



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