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McMillan Developers Look To Prove Density Is Justified After Court Decision

A rendering of the McMillan Sand Filtration Site development

After a court vacated DC's approval of the $720M McMillan Sand Filtration Site development in December, the team behind the 25-acre project has just responded with a detailed justification for its plans. 

Vision McMillan Partners, a JV of Jair Lynch, Trammell Crow and EYA working with the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, submitted documentation to the Zoning Commission arguing that decreasing its density would undermine Comprehensive Plan objectives and jeopardize the project's success, UrbanTurf reports.

For the 25-acre site, the team proposed building 1M SF of healthcare space, 655 housing units, 125K SF of retail anchored by a Harris Teeter, a 17K SF community center and an eight-acre park. The project had received Zoning Commission approval, but then community group Friends of McMillan Park successfully sued to have that approval vacated. The court gave the development team the opportunity to prove its project would not harm the surrounding community and better justify its density. 

The District Court of Appeals wrote in its decision the reason for needing high-density development, rather than moderate density, was not adequately explained. Vision McMillan's response focused on the project's healthcare facility. It said reducing the project to moderate density would mean cutting two floors from this building, which would reduce its chances of landing an anchor tenant and hurt the viability of the project's retail.

As for the impacts on the surrounding community, the team argued that adding housing to the area would help mitigate the effects of gentrification and the project would not displace any residents. It also said the healthcare component would provide newer facilities for underserved neighborhoods. 

The Zoning Commission will hold a new hearing for the development on March 23.