City Cast

The McMillan Reservoir Is Getting Developed

Kaela Cote-Stemmermann
Kaela Cote-Stemmermann
Posted on August 10
McMillan sand filtration plant.

McMillan sand filtration plant. (David Monack/Wikimedia Commons)

Finally, FINALLY, progress is being made on the McMillan sand filtration site on North Capitol Street NW. The development would turn the overgrown 25-acre industrial lot in the middle of D.C. into housing and community space called the Reservoir District.

What Took So Long?

The site has sat unused for more than 36 years while red tape, local squabbles, and multiple lawsuits held up development. Mike Neibauer who's been covering it for the Washington Business Journal says, “There were protests, there were appeals, there were protests about the appeals. There were people chaining themselves to things.”

But finally, we are past all that, and the city is free to start developing the site.

Meet the New Reservoir District

Local leaders have promised that the unused space will become a park, community center, and pool as early as next year. Then, the city is bringing in developers to build out retail, 146 town homes, two new apartment buildings, restaurants, and allegedly, a Harris Teeter by 2026.

As it is, the corridor feels more like a highway with the National Children's Hospital to the north, so the city is doing everything it can to lure people in, including giving it a fancy PR name: the Reservoir District.

Why The Opposition?

Some residents opposed giving one of D.C.’s few open spaces away to developers. “There were all sorts of arguments against it,” said Neibauer, “It's too tall, too dense, that it's gonna cause a traffic nightmare. It's not next to the Metro.” However, the pros of more housing, boosted economic development, and walkability ultimately prevailed.

What Do You Think?

I lived by this site for years and am personally thrilled to see it turn into something functional for the public (not to mention close-by groceries!).

“I'm just glad to see it move forward, because in the end, what you have is a derelict site that’s historic and deserves to be something,” concluded Neibauer.

Learn more about the site development on our podcast, then tell us what you think of it!

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