Some rail properties are moving, others waiting for specifics on impact

Some rail properties are moving, others waiting for specifics on impact

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - We walked most of the rail line from Pearlridge to Ala Moana Shopping Center and found a lot of business owners who know their property will be impacted, but aren't sure exactly how.  The Marie Louise Cleaners building will be spared, but not the parking lot.  Without customer parking the business may not survive.

"It's a big part of our business. Fifty percent of the people like to come in here and bring it in and interact with us and tell us about their clothes. It's a very personal thing that we do here," said Wendy Kia, Marie Louise Cleaners Owners.

With a lot of businesses parking is critical. That's the case for Marie Louise Cleaners.

"As far as drying goes convenience is a big part of it. We sell quality and service but it still has to be convenient that they can pull in and bring us their clothes," said Kia.

The building itself won't be touched by rail, but a portion of her six stall parking lot will be taken.  She has been trying to press Hart for answers, but fears she's the one being taken to the cleaners.

"The hard part is that I just don't know what they're going to do. The uncertainty is difficult to make plans," said Kia.

Then there are people like Brenda Iseri.  She has owned Brenda's Hair Salon for 49 years. It's in a prime location on Piikoi Street right across from Ala Moana Shopping Center.  She was notified this month that she'll have to be out by mid December.

"It's been stressful trying to find another place," said Iseri.

At 67 she is not ready to retire, but also too tired to open up another shop.

"I'm going to lose quite a bit, over $10,000. Maybe $15,000," said Iseri, who plans to rent a chair in another salon.

There are 225 properties on the list to be acquired either in full or in part. Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (Hart) has budgeted more than $222 million for the right of way expenses. Of that amount $20.5 million is to be spent on searching for new locations, helping businesses move and advertising to alert customers the company has moved.

(View a slideshow of Oahu properties on the list:

"Let's just say there is a business that has a certain number of parking spaces that it has had many years and we are going to reduce that by fifty percent. That business could still operate but maybe operate at a diminished capacity. We are going to try to calculate that and make that payment for them. Another business might say, 'you know if you take that much parking it may mean that we can't operate efficiently.' In that case we need to talk with them about potentially relocating to another location," said Dan Grabauskas, Hart CEO.

Federal rules say Hart is supposed to pay for moving costs, some of which are not supposed to be capped.

"In some categories there are but in some categories its whatever the cost is to move that business if they can demonstrate those are actual costs we pay all of that," said Grabauskas.  "It's really an ongoing conversation that we have with them."

Hart is in the process with negotiating with businesses.  Some are already moving out.  Others that haven't been told the details should know in the coming months.

If businesses have clean records of costs and negotiate payments Hart says from a business standpoint they will not be hung out to dry.

(View a slideshow of Oahu properties on the list:

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