A recent TV news story about commercial flood insurance problems also mentioned that the owners of Blanc Printing, who suffered $1 million in losses during last year’s flood, want to leave Baldwin Street.
They’re not alone.
After the June 2018 flood, some property owners said they would gladly say goodbye to Baldwin Street if it didn’t mean getting soaked financially.
Now, Bridgeville officials hope that federal grant money will allow the borough to purchase residential property from willing sellers at pre-flood prices.
In the short-term, those properties would likely become greenspace.
In the long-term, borough could move forward with an ambitious, $30 million plan that would essentially erase Baldwin Street and start over. According to the proposal:
- Baldwin Street would disappear and be replaced by a new Bower Hill Road that follows a similar route to the current Baldwin Street.
- McLaughlin Run Creek would be widened and deepened. Engineers would add new curves to the creek and it would be flanked by wide swaths of greenspace on both sides. The area that we now know as Bower Hill Road would become a creek bank.
- The land on the south side of Baldwin Street would become a new retail district with pedestrian trails, park space, and underground parking.
None of this is certain, however. And for council, moving forward with the plan would be more complicated than a simple “yes” or “no” vote.
Instead, the project would proceed over a matter of years, with council evaluating and voting upon the many individual components—property acquisitions, greenspace planning, zoning changes, funding sources, and more.
In the meantime, borough officials have repeatedly said that they are not considering eminent domain as an option for property acquisition.
“I want to make that very clear,” said Mike Tolmer, council president. “The way the plan is set up, as property became available for sale, it would be purchased. This isn’t a plan that we’re looking to do in a year or two. This is over the course of many years.”
Whatever the time frame, the end result seems clear—with the borough making plans to acquire land and at least one prominent business looking for an exit, Baldwin Street as we know it may be on the way out.
Read more about the $30 million plan to revitalize the Baldwin Street area here.