In yet another blow to the Cafritz development team, the American Center for Physics (ACP) has decided not to allow a CSX bridge across its property.
In a letter to Jane Cafritz dated March 15, ACP president Beth Cunningham wrote that the organization opted to decline the developer’s proposal for the land required for the bridge, stating:
Our decision is based not on any defect in your plans for the bridge/roadway. Rather, our final decision is based on a judgement by ACP to maintain our current property with its extensive landscaped and treed environment. The ACP vision of a serene, verdant campus-like setting was established over 20 years ago. We are now reaffirming our hope to maintain that setting, but with enough land to give us flexibility in terms of modest future development opportunities.
Although this information does represent another delay for the project, the developers have also been having conversations with the University of Maryland about potentially having the CSX bridge cross its property.
“We are having ongoing dialogue with them we are hopeful that something might be able to be worked out with the University of Maryland,” said Bruce McLeod, a spokesperson for the Cafritz developers.
Riverdale Park Mayor Vernon Archer said he was also aware of the conversations between developers and UMD.
“Some alternatives through the university property certainly were decent back up plans so that is where we are looking now,” Archer said.
University Park Mayor John Tabori learned of the ACP’s rejection of the CSX bridge this past weekend. He said he is looking forward to seeing the developer’s plans for providing access to the site from the east.
"We feel they will have to make major changes in their plans," Tabori said. "Obviously, if they are putting the bridge somewhere else, we are essentially waiting for them to submit amended plans and then we'll see where we can go from there."
University Park Town Council Member Michael Cron (Ward 6), an opponent of the project early on, said that if the development is to go forward, it needs to have access from the east.
"If it's going to be built, it should be built properly, it should be built to be an improvement to the area, unlike an eyesore like the University Town Center, which has failed," said Cron. "If it's going to be built, I want it to be a success…. If they can't get the bridge over the CSX tracks, it will never be a success."
The bridge, which would connect the proposed development to connect the project to River Road, is one of several conditions on the property negotiated by the town in advance of last year’s zoning change from residential (R-55) to Mixed-Use Town Center (MUTC).
Without plans and an approved funding mechanism for the bridge, construction on the project cannot begin.