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Montlake Boulevard Market
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Beloved Montlake Boulevard Market faces ax from 520 expansion

Owners of the Montlake Boulevard Market describe a current issue with eminent domain as being "evicted, fired with no just cause and without severance, and having one’s 401K embezzled at the same time.” (Contributed)
LISTEN: Kathy Laughman on leading a rally for Montlake Boulevard Market

The State Route 520 Bridge Replacement project will replace aging infrastructure on the roadways, but an unintended consequence might also be demolishing the Montlake Boulevard Market, a long-standing piece of the neighborhood, and leaving the business owners with no compensation.

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In late June, the Washington State Department of Transportation met with members of the Montlake neighborhood to discuss the 520 expansion project, which included a plan to purchase the Montlake Boulevard Market and the 76 gas station property through eminent domain and demolish both businesses. The market, which opened in 1936, is located across the Montlake Bridge from Husky Stadium on the other side of the 520 on-ramp. The next phase of the Highway 520 project costs $4.65 billion and will include construction between I-5 and Lake Washington – known as the Rest of the West. The Montlake lid will be a hub for local and regional transportation connectivity, and will include multifunctional open spaces, urban trails, undercrossings, a regional shared-use path and transit connections.

Project spokesman Scott Peer told The Seattle Times in July that the businesses are “basically right in the middle” of what will be a freeway off-ramp.

Kathy Laughman, a patron of the market and member of the Montlake Community Club, told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson that the community is attempting to work with WSDOT to come to a solution that wouldn’t ax the neighborhood market. She said they are trying to figure out a way that the freeway can get built without the eminent domain casualty.

“We’ve been working with them on many different levels ever since June and we think there is a way that we can keep the market even if it has to go away temporarily it can come back,” she said. “There isn’t any reason that we see that the state needs to take that property on a permanent basis.

“We’re working with them in a cooperative way to make sure that the interests of the community and the interests of the people who need that freeway are in the interest of each party. We think it can be a win-win for both sides.”

Laughman says WSDOT’s plan is to use that location as a staging area but the community is working on alternatives.

“It’s not that 520 needs to go over that land,” she said. “That’s not the plan. But we’re optimistic. We’ve been in conversation with them about other opportunities they have to move staging areas.”

If they are unsuccessful, though, the property owner will be offered the land value but not any reimbursement for the business itself.

“The owner of the property is supposed to be a given an offer for the value of the property,” Laughman explained. “The owners of the business will not be compensated for their business, except, I understand, for some moving costs. It’s a loss not only for the owners of the business, but the larger community as well.”

The family-owned business is not too happy about the turn of events, with the #SaveMontlakeMarket website describing the situation like “being evicted, fired with no just cause and without severance, and having one’s 401K embezzled at the same time.”

On Saturday afternoon, the Huskies have a big game against the USC Trojans. The community will be rallying a few blocks away, between 2-3 p.m. to show their support.

“It’s not only a family-owned business but it’s a business that employs a couple of dozen employees,” Laughman said. “It serves the neighborhood and has served the neighborhood for years and years.”

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