It seems that the Purple line of the DC Metro system will reach Langley Park and other neighborhoods in perhaps three years. Already “ethnic” residents and businesses in the so-called “international corridor” are worried about being pushed out and want to exact some “community benefit agreements” that Montgomery County Executive, Isiah Leggett is threatening to veto.
Here is the story from WAMU-American University Radio:
In Maryland, the Purple line is years away from completion, but a group of small business owners say they’re already feeling its effects.
Danny Santacruz owns America Hair Design, right at the intersection of New Hampshire Avenue and University Boulevard in Langley Park. One day, the Purple line will go through there. Construction is at least three years away, but Santacruz and his salon may not be here by then. Rent is getting higher and higher, to the point that Santacruz says he could rent in D.C.’s upscale Dupont Circle neighborhood for the same price.
He’s done business in Langley Park for 11 years, but now, he sadly imagines what riders will one day say as the ride the Purple line through there. “‘Yeah, I remember they used to have Hispanic cuisine at this restaurant, or Indian cuisine at that restaurant,'” he says. “‘Oh yeah, that was a long time ago. We have whatever store is there now.'”
CASA de Maryland weighs in
Others are certain the higher rents in the area can be connected to the proposed Purple line, and they fear that while they’ll get the mass transit they’ve always wanted, it will destroy this neighborhood they call the “International Corridor” because of all its small businesses run by and catering to immigrants. Zorayda Moreira-Smith is a lawyer with Casa De Maryland, and she says the process of gentrification is starting with landlords and developers.
Moreira-Smith says Casa does not want to see here what happened in the D.C. neighborhood of Columbia Heights, where big box retailers such as Target and Best Buy now do business. The Montgomery County Council is considering a bill targeting such retailers by forcing them to sign community benefit agreements supporters feel would protect existing businesses.
“These big box businesses are not here to compete with local small businesses. They’re here to take over,” Moreira-Smith says.
Ike Leggett with a moment of clarity (but no sympathy from me because for years he encouraged these people):
County executive Isiah Leggett has threatened to veto the measure, saying it sends a bad message and makes the county less business friendly.