The 2006 agreement gave La Cite's Poppleton Development the right to rehabilitate 13.8 acres, roughly bordered by West Mulberry Street to the north, North Amity Street to the east, West Fairmount Street to the south and North Carrollton Avenue to the west.
The area it agreed to revitalize is made up of 526 properties, a horseshoe of land surrounding a large block containing the Greater Model public pool and Francis M. Wood High School. In 2004, when proposals were requested for the site, the city had not started the process of acquiring — through condemnation or other means — more than 160 of those tracts.
La Cite's plans for Park Square included up to 1,800 residences and about 150,000 square feet of commercial space for tenants such as an urban grocer and other retailers. La Cite also wants to launch a charter school at Wood High, where Excel Academy currently operates, and a youth-oriented tennis training center.
Poppleton residents are frustrated by the slow pace of the planned revival.
"I don't know what it's going to take" to get the development going, said Michael Johnson, 28, who grew up in Poppleton and moved back about six months ago.
Johnson said he'd like to see stores, homes or a playground — just about anything — built in the empty, overgrown lots across the street from his unit in Poe Homes, public housing that abuts the site set aside for redevelopment. There isn't much for children to do in the area, Johnson said, and the community's sole playground is a lot behind his building.
"People need jobs, so stores would be good," he said.
Althea Frazier, a neighbor of Johnson's in Poe Homes, said residents have nowhere nearby to buy groceries.
"You either have to go all the way down to Washington Boulevard … or go to Rite Aid or something," Frazier said. She'd like to see new housing and a Family Dollar store come to the area.
Williams, who did not know about the city's plan to terminate the La Cite contract, said he's desperate to get out. But he said he doesn't have the money to move from the home he's lived in for more than a decade and where his mother lived for 30 years before that.
In January, he emailed La Cite's founder, Dan Bythewood, begging him to circumvent the city's acquisition process and buy his home directly. Poppleton Development's attorneys included Williams' letter as evidence of the arguments made in their complaint.
"Presently I am the only resident on the entire block," Williams wrote. "I am willing to sell my proper[ty] directly to you because the city is dragging their feet for an offer."
Baltimore Sun reporter Colin Campbell contributed to this article.