In Cedar Park, neighbors are upset over a planned development that’s would take place through eminent domain. They say this plan would strip homeowners of their properties and the local community association of their right to create the neighborhood that community members envision. According to local developer Ryan Spak, a public meeting in November clued in neighbors about the PRA's proposal to develop a mixed-use project on parcels now occupied by privately owned dilapidated homes west of the Mercy Wellness Center on the 5000 block of Baltimore Avenue. The non-profit owners of the Mercy Center would develop the site. But neighbors feel slighted.
“Why are we being blindsided by this?” Spak said.
To develop the project, which, according to Spak, was vague and lacked detail, the City would acquire the strip of distressed homes through eminent domain. According to Spak, neither area homeowners nor local neighborhood associations were contacted early in the process. Nor were any local developers already working in the area considered. The main question from Spak and other neighbors is why is there was no public process here. Why was there no RFP? At least, they maintain, there should be a process where various alternatives for development of that area are presented.
Earlier this summer, we told you about how neighbors had organized and started holding meetings to discuss a proposal to develop a neighborhood garden center in a vacant triangular lot at 5048-50 Baltimore owned by Spak. It was something community members agreed met a neighborhood need. The idea grew out of talks about the Phila2035 planning process and fit into local plans called the Baltimore Avenue Conversation, which was had among several groups in 2010, according to Spak. But in order for that development to be viable it would require other nearby parcels. If the Mercy Center development goes forward, that proposal will likely die.
What will happen here? Will the PRA and the Mercy Wellness Center build a project here? Will it fall through, and will a garden center make an appearance? Are both possible? We shall see.