HYATTSVILLE – Lucy “Coco” Nguyen has owned Glorious Nails nail salon in Langley Park for the past 10 years.
But with the advances in the proposed $1.93 billion light-rail Purple Line, which, the state says, is scheduled to begin operation in 2020, she has joined a growing number of small businesses along the University Boulevard corridor that are concerned about the impact on the community – and business – the new transit system might bring.
“How do I survive during that construction?” Nguyen, 43, said. “There is nail salon everywhere. People don’t have to come to my place.”
The construction for the Purple Line light rail, a 16-mile transit system that will stretch from Bethesda in Montgomery County to New Carrollton in Prince George’s County and pass along University Boulevard, is planned to begin in 2015 and last about five years, Purple Line Manager Michael Madden said.
“When the Purple Line comes, there’ll be a lot more people, a lot more customers brought to their businesses,” he said. “If they can survive construction and that’s what will be working on a plan to do that, then in the end, we feel they can benefit.”
Danny Santa Cruz, 30, who owns a barber shop next to Nguyen’s business and along Piney Branch Road said the Purple Line will bring a lot of mobility to the neighborhood, but he said it would bring rent hikes to the area’s residents and businesses and leave the mostly Central American population on the move.
“[These businesses] have the products that [the community] needs,” Santa Cruz said. “…[These businesses] make them feel at home. And if a lot of these businesses are going to be displaced, then a lot of people are going to lose access to these things.”
The list of properties that will be condemned for the construction of the Purple Line shows about 500 parcels, including 170 that would be condemned temporarily and after construction returned to the owner, according to Washington Post, which published the list on Jan. 25.
But, Maryland Transit Administration officials said the list published by The Washington Post is “outdated” and “based on information that goes back to May 2010.”
“The number of properties that will be impacted – including those that will be displaced – has changed,” Madden said. “We really won’t have an updated list until we complete the environmental process, which is roughly spring or summer of 2013.”
Nguyen – who immigrated to America from Vietnam in 1982 and is a single mom – said she has doubled her work hours to pay off her $6,000 per month business rent and is afraid to lose all she’s been building for years.
“The more I move, the more I suffer, and hard for my son, too,” she said. “I cannot move anymore because every time you move, you need to find a new living. Everything start new again.”