CEDAR PARK, Texas - A project to realign Bell Boulevard through Cedar Park is expected to be completed by the end of the year, as all part of a bigger project called Destination Bell, a new Domain-like retail and residential development.
On Wednesday, a long-running fight may end over the acquisition of some of the property along the new road owned by Tina and John Mallach. The process has been so contested they recently put up signs which display how they feel about the destination project.
"Well pictures speak a thousand words, you can see what we are left with, and it’s pretty hellish," said John Mallach.
Photos show how the property looked like five years ago when the negotiating process started. The two buildings owned by Mallachs were upholstery and drapery businesses. In 2019 the city purchased the buildings, which were demolished, and also purchased a quarter of the land.
"I feel bullied, I know we've been bulldozed, we've gotten pennies for our property but I can tell you one thing they are not going to steal the front of my property, that's not going to happen," said Tina Mallach.
That land in dispute is a 6,200-square-foot area the city designated as a right of way, but a new measurement, according to the Mallachs, confirms they own it.
On Tuesday afternoon officials with the city acknowledged that. "She will be compensated for the additional right of way," said City spokesperson Jennie Huerta.
Addressing that tract of land will be part of a hearing Wednesday. The hearing will also take another look at the compensation package. The couple wanted $2 million and questioned the appraisal. Huerta said the work was done by an independent contractor.
"Their initial offer came in at $340,000 for the 2 buildings which was $10,000 less than what she paid for it in 1994," said John Mallach.
The city position on that is much different. "We believe that will be disproved in tomorrow's hearing," said Huerta.
What remains a point of contention is that the couple believes the city paid a lot more for property across the street from them. It’s where the new destination project will go. "That is a wholly separate project, it has a different funding mechanism, and it involved willing sellers," said Huerta in response.
The city is expected to argue that the road improvements will increase the value of Mallach’s property. The couple argues not enough land is left to make it economically useful. "We’re done, but we can't be done, so we have to keep fighting," said Tina Mallach.
The additional fight includes the removal of debris the city left on the property when the buildings were demolished. That is also expected to be discussed during the Wednesday hearing.