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City Eyes Acquiring Route 1 Properties by Eminent Domain for City Hall Project

At tomorrow’s meeting, the City Council will introduce an ordinance authorizing the acquisition of properties located at 7409 and 7411 Baltimore Avenue (Route 1) using eminent domain.

Once acquired, the land where these properties currently stand, will be part of the new City Hall project.

Five businesses at these locations will be affected by the acquisition, including Smoothie King, Subway, Hair Cuttery, Shanghai Cafe, and a cell phone repair shop. It’s unknown when the leases of these businesses will expire.

Currently, these properties are owned by Mrs. Margaret Jeanne Kurz Byrd of Melbourne Beach, FL. City Staff has been in preliminary discussions with Mrs. Byrd and her son, William Byrd, since October 2016 concerning the City’s interest in acquiring these two key parcels of land. Unfortunately, these discussions have not yet resulted in an understanding between the City and the Byrd family.

In 2015, City staff and the University of Maryland held a meeting to review design options for a joint development on the City Hall block between Baltimore Avenue and Yale Avenue. A conceptual design was presented before the City Council worksession in August 2015. According to the concept plan, a single building with a 30,000 SF City Hall and 45,000 SF of university offices would be built. A significant public plaza would occupy the Route 1 frontage and approximately 10,000 SF of retail could be accommodated initially on the ground floor of the university offices. A small amount of surface parking would be provided on site with most of the parking provided in the existing garage.

The sale price for the properties is not yet known. Total City Hall Redevelopment Project costs are conservatively estimated at $12,500,000 which include construction, planning, and land acquisition costs. The City has set aside roughly $4,500,000 to date for this anticipated capital cost. Additionally, the City has received a $400,000 State bond bill for development of this project and a $100,000 grant from the State Community Legacy Program for acquisition costs

A public hearing on this matter will take place at the November 28 Council meeting.

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1 Comment to “City Eyes Acquiring Route 1 Properties by Eminent Domain for City Hall Project”

  1. By Harvy, November 13, 2017 @ 8:57 am

    When properties are acquired through eminent domain, it is done with the understanding that seizing those properties is for the betterment of the public. For example, widening a road to improve traffic flow, or improving water management. I do not see how seizing those properties so that the university can erect an office building benefits the public in any way. It is my belief that the property as it currently stands, does not fit in with the look that the city is hoping to develop for the downtown area which is why they are looking to seize it. I would hope that the city council can understand this and work in a different direction to construct the “new” City Hall.

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