University Park Mayor John Tabori said it was “disappointing” to hear the news that the Cafritz development to bring Whole Foods to Riverdale Park hit another setback this month.
A key condition for the 1.9 million square-foot development — featuring a mix of apartments, office space and retail highlighted by the grocer Whole Foods’ debut in Prince George’s County — was that the developer builds a bridge over a CSX rail crossing to connect the site to River Road. But the American Center for Physics, which owns the property where developers hoped to construct the bridge, rejected the plan in a letter March 15.
“I think I’ve been the earliest proponent of the bridge and our town has been very, very consistent about it,” Tabori said. “That’s a requirement for development of this density ... They have to have that bridge both for emergency vehicle access as well as traffic relief.”
ACP president Beth Cunningham wrote in a letter to the developer that the rejection is not based on an issue with the bridge/roadway plan, but “Rather, our final decision is based on a judgment by ACP to maintain our current property with its extensive landscaped and treed environment.”
Cafritz spokesman Bruce McLeod said that ACP’s rejection of the bridge proposal only represented a minor setback, and that the development team has been in talks with the University of Maryland, College Park, on a backup proposal.
McLeod said he did not have details on exactly where the bridge would cross university property.
“All along two different options were being considered — the ACP crossing and also the University of Maryland crossing,” McLeod said. “Both of those have been under review and discussions have been ongoing with both groups.”
Riverdale Park Mayor Vernon Archer described the ACP property as one of the best options for placement of the bridge, but that the University of Maryland would be a “reasonable” alternative.
“It is a concern, because we’ve got to have a bridge, but it’s nothing particularly new,” Archer said. “...I expect it will get done.”
Irene Redmiles, UM assistant vice president for real estate, was not immediately available for comment Friday.
McLeod said he could not say how far negotiations have gone with the university, but said the developer would submit a revised version of its preliminary plan application to the Prince George’s County Planning Board with the new bridge location “very shortly.”