Mayor’s Agent Shows City’s Determination to Demolish McMillan at All Costs, Including Fair and Impartial Review

Press Release :: Citywide Friends of McMillan Park
Contact:  Eric Gold,

Mayor’s Agent Shows City’s Determination to Demolish McMillan at All Costs, Including Fair and Impartial Review

The 25-acre public McMillan Park site along North Capitol Street is both a local and national historic landmark.  The District Government must therefore, in effect, nullify these historic preservation protections to carry out its plans for a suburban-style, car-oriented, high-rise development.

With the endorsement of the Historic Preservation Review Board, the project is now before J. Peter Byrne, the Mayor’s Agent for Historic Preservation.  Back in April, Byrne approved the demolition of the “remarkable remains” of “nearly all” of the historic underground filtration chambers. Now he is considering the legal subdivision of the property.

Despite Byrne’s all-but-certain approval, the subdivision was vigorously opposed at a hearing he held on May 22, 2015, starting with questions about the Application for the hearing. 

Andrea Ferster, lawyer for the Friends of McMillan Park, pressed for the Application and Referral to the Historic Preservation Board, the form that triggers historic preservation review and should have been in the record and in the hands of all parties before the hearing began.

This key document identifies the property owner and applicant for any project.  Despite a search during the hearing, all that could be produced was the Application’s date.

Since then, a file emailed by Steve Calcott of DC’s Historic Preservation Office (HPO) shows only a portion of the application documents – missing some of the key appendices that set the basis for the hearing.  And curiously, the Application lists Holland and Knight’s address as that of the Wilson Building. Subdivision Application receipt_12.19.2014

“The collusion here between the government and developers to destroy of 85% of the site is disgusting, and is not historic preservation at all.  Byrne should know this because he’s a historic preservation professor and lawyer,” said Daniel Wolkoff, a Ward 5 resident and co-founder of McMillan Coalition for Sustainable Agriculture. “These proceedings, without the hearing Application even on file, show once again the District Government’s determination to develop McMillan despite legal and historic protections and public sentiment through actions including the hiring of a PR company to neutralize public sentiment, ignoring overwhelming Zoning Commission testimony against the city’s plan, the negative valuation of the land and the obliteration of historic vistas.”

The Mayor’s Agent hearing resumes this Wednesday, June 3, 2015 at the offices of the DC Office of Planning, 1100 4th Street, SW, Suite 650 East, Washington, DC 20024, starting at 9:30am.


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