37-year-old non-profit forced to uproot amid city development

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Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to reflect the development will be 50 acres, and has clarified the construction timeline and relationship between the city and the Yellow House Foundation.

CEDAR PARK, Texas (KXAN) — The City of Cedar Park is getting closer to redeveloping a 50-acre area along Bell Boulevard.

The City is currently relocating utilities along Bell Boulevard in anticipation of the highway realignment. In the summer of 2020, the city will begin the highway realignment project. The Bell Boulevard redevelopment cannot break ground until the road is realigned.

The Yellow House Foundation is located within the Bell Boulevard strip.

Its board members are now crying out for the community’s help. The foundation must be out of its current building by Jan. 31, 2021, when the lease expires.

“I was an emotional wreck. I was put in and out of hospitals,” said Suzannah Leal, Yellow House board member. “This place saved my life.”

The Yellow House Foundation has given people a new hope for 37 years. For many, the Yellow House is a home for recovery and the start to a new life.

“Any given week you’re going to have 700 people that are in different stages of recovery,” said board member Hal Cromwell.

The Bell Boulevard project is supposed to create a central gathering place and is supposed to be something that serves as the heart of the community.

The planning process began in 2014, and the master plan was created in 2015.

Assistant City Manager, Katherine Caffrey says one of the first things the city did was talk to the existing property owners, including the one that owned the property Yellow House has leased.

“We were very up front with them about our timelines,” Katherine Caffrey said.

The City bought the Yellow House along with other neighboring businesses in 2017. The sale of the Yellow House building was made between its property owner and the city. Since it bought the property, the City has been paying the property taxes and the city hasn’t collected rent from the tenants there, or the landlord.

Under the city’s lease-back agreement with the former property owner, the original lease between the former property owner and tenants remains in place.

KXAN’s Kaitlyn Karmout found out that the property landlord has been charging the Yellow House non-profit directly $5,000 a month. KXAN reached out to the landlord, but he hasn’t responded back yet.

The Yellow House now has until Jan. 31, 2021 to build a new meeting place. Non-profit leaders say they’ve internally raised $400,000, which has gone towards securing land in Leander. They still say they need to raise $150,000 in 90 days to build the structure, however.

If you would like to donate to the Yellow House, you can do so here.

As part of the city’s agreement with the Bell Boulevard land developer, Cedar Park is putting in nearly $30 million in community development funds. That money is coming from sales tax to fund the development’s land acquisitions.

The highway realignment, which is separate from the development, is funded by $20 million in voter-approved general obligation streets and roads bonds.

“The City is bearing some costs just as much as the developer is,” Caffrey said. “We are together recouping proceeds. The City will recoup what is put into the project over the long-term.”

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