Friends of McMillan Park
For Release: Monday, October 26, 2015
Contact: Erin Fairbanks, email@example.com, @czarinamaude
DC Auditor Calls for New Competition for McMillan Developer
In an October 19 letter to Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, District of Columbia Auditor Kathy Patterson discussed the expanding role the master developer, Vision McMillan Partners (VMP) has had in the planning for the development of the 25-acre McMillan site.
The Auditor concludes that while VMP was originally chosen competitively in 2007 to be the “the land development team,” its role has grown to such an extent that a “a new competitive process” is called for.
VMP’s responsibilities have expanded to include “accountability for project completion…from inception to vertical completion [and] the full burden [for] the private financing” as well being granted exclusive development rights for specific McMillan parcels. These material changes “warrant a new competitive process,” according to the Auditor.
“Thank you, Auditor Patterson, for confirming what more than 7,500 of us have said for years — that DMPED has not followed the law in the McMillan project,” said Keshini Ladduwahetty, a longtime McMillan Park advocate who asked the Auditor to investigate the VMP role.
“DMPED has given VMP sole rights to development without a proper bidding process, and they have used taxpayer money to pay pre-development costs that include PR services to create a fake, astro-turf support for the project. Given the Auditor’s findings, passing this resolution is tantamount to the Council accepting full responsibility for a development project that is riddled with irregularities. The Council has an opportunity to start afresh on McMillan and do it right this time.”
Ladduwahetty is referring to VMP and its partners, including the billion dollar Trammell Crow Co., being paid $78 million for lawyers, site preparation, preservation and amenities according to The New York Times. The payment to the PR firm, Fontaine & Company of Baltimore, was sharply criticized by several councilmembers when it was brought to light at a Council hearing.
Monday’s Council hearing (9:30 am, room 120) is just one of several upcoming deliberations on various aspects of the VMP plan for McMillan. On Tuesday, November 3, 9:30 am, the DC Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments on the Council’s withholding of McMillan-related documents requested under FOIA from Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie. The Court has not yet scheduled arguments on the appeal of the Zoning Commission approval. However, the Zoning Commission has set December 17 for a hearing on VMP’s request for further approvals of their plan.