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7 ON YOUR SIDE: Eminent domain demolitions along Purple Line

7 ON YOUR SIDE: Eminent domain demolitions along Purple Line (Nathan Baca/ABC7)

The first building demolished Monday in the path of the future Purple Line light rail project was a storage shed. But down the line, businesses and livelihoods are in the path of demolition.

“They are offering very little money,” said Dario Orellana, owner of El Aguila restaurant on 16th Street in Silver Spring.

Orellana’s restaurant has been open at a Silver Spring strip mall for 17 years. Twenty people work there.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do with all of them,” added Orellana.

The Purple Line may not be complete until 2022 according to state projections, but business owners need to make a choice now: Decide by August 31 whether to move or call it quits. If they move, the average payout from state contractor Diversified Property Services is $200,000. If business owners decide not to move, they receive a fixed payment of $60,000.

“I’ve been looking for a place these past two years, but I couldn’t find anything,” said Truong Nguyen, owner of a neighboring laundromat.

Moving the laundromat equipment is uniquely difficult and expensive.

“Just to move the machines out, it costs $25,000, not counting the storage and then move back to the new place,” added Nguyen.

Both business owners have known the government intended to take over their properties using eminent domain for years, but they were still surprised when the 30 day notices finally came.

“Under the law, they’re entitled to fair value. And if that has been determined, that’s the number,” said Montgomery County Councilmember Nancy Floreen.

“Maryland has a very favorable process for the property owners and I believe that process will produce the correct value for the properties that will have to be taken for the project,” said Maryland Secretary of Transportation Pete Rahn.

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