What's the city doing to ease impact of downtown construction on business owners?
Reporter: Claire Doan
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) – Downtown businesses are learning the price of progress. Some owners say street construction will cost them tens of thousands of dollars and claim it could be avoided, had the city planned better.
9 On Your Side wants to know: What’s the city doing to ease the impact of construction?
Having to deal with signs that say “street closed,” tractors moving piles of dirt and a street empty of cars and people, O’Malleys owner Scott Cummings said the construction has put a dent on business. He said he met with city leaders countless times over the last year to prevent this from happening – having construction hinder his business during the busiest time of the year.
“All along, we’d always work under the premise that there’d be no encroachment into the intersection until after the Street Fair, so obviously that would include the week before, which is St. Patrick’s Day,” Cummings said. He said the city has provided little information in the last couple of weeks on exactly whether the Fourth Ave. intersection in front of his place will be shut down.
The construction has also been a costly hassle to Raoul Erickson, who owns the Instrument Development Corporation. He develops environmental test equipment at a building across from O’Malleys. He has basically shut down operations and rented another space for $4,000 a month.
“All the construction – there’s so much vibration and road construction that we can’t even operate our equipment. Unfortunately, the city is unable to give us a concrete construction schedule,” Erickson said, adding that there’s been limited communication from the city.
“We’ve generated some proposals for the city to alleviate some of our problems as far as accessibility and eliminating our customer base, but those have not been fully addressed yet.”
So 9 On Your Side took their concerns of these business owners to Jesse Guiterrez, the manager of the Manager of the Modern Street Car Construction Project. He said the work is actually a part of a project called Downtown Links, and crews had no choice but to attack this area first.
“You can see it coming down the blocks for many weeks, in not months in advance. Regardless, the business outreach and the communication we put there shows we plan to be in this area at this time all along and that should be no surprise,” Guiterrez.
Guiterrez assured 9OYS construction in the Fourth Avenue intersection will stop by early Monday, well before St. Patrick’s Day.
“There is an impact, an inconvenience, but it’s only one side of the street and it’s just fencing in the roadway. The roadway is closed, but the sidewalks are completely open,” Guiterrez said.
However, at least one councilman wants the city to do a better job at working with impacted business owners.
“This is the heart of Fourth Avenue, the heart of that downtown. They’ve got to be a whole lot more sensitive to the impact that their scheduling is going to have on local businesses,” said Councilman Steve Kozachik.