Purple Line Stokes Gentrification Fears | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

WAMU 88.5 : News

Filed Under:

Purple Line Stokes Gentrification Fears

Play associated audio
University Boulevard in Langley Park is already starting to see the effects of the Purple Line, three years in advance of construction.
Matt Bush
University Boulevard in Langley Park is already starting to see the effects of the Purple Line, three years in advance of construction.

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.

"I've noticed on the leases, there's no renewal now after five years," says Santacruz. "They continue to increase (rent). It could have to do with the Purple line. It could not. It could just be a coincidence. I don't really know."

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.'"

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.

"We are starting to see, unfortunately, people planning," says Moreira-Smith. "People don't want to have these long leases, because they know that will commit them to this baseline rent. And they know that they'll probably be able to get more once construction starts and the Purple line is built."

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.

County executive Isiah Leggett has threatened to veto the measure, saying it sends a bad message and makes the county less business friendly. There is no construction start date set for the Purple line.

NPR

'Guardians' Director: This Movie Needed Me!

Morning Edition's David Greene talks to director James Gunn about his new film, Guardians of the Galaxy, which Marvel hopes to make its next big franchise. Characters include a raccoon and a tree.
NPR

Syracuse Researchers Melt Rock, Grill A Steak Over Magma

Researchers at the university built a furnace that can melt rock, then had a cookout. Chefs placed a ribeye on a grill over the 2,100-degree magma. Seconds later, a very charred, medium rare steak.
NPR

Cantor To Step Down This Month To Make Room For Successor

After relinquishing his majority leader post, Cantor, who was defeated in a stunning June primary upset, says he wants to make room for his successor to take over his Virginia seat in November.
NPR

Big Data Firm Says It Can Link Snowden Data To Changed Terrorist Behavior

For months, U.S. officials have said secret data from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden was affecting the way terrorists communicate. A Massachusetts company says it has found proof.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.