ST. GEORGE — Some businesses along Bluff Street are feeling the impact of having heavy construction outside their front doors, but Mayor Jon Pike is personally visiting every business along the construction site to tell owners how the city can help.
Kneaders Bakery and Cafe on Bluff Street has experienced a 30 percent drop in sales since the construction project started, business operator Kathy Hansen said.
Sue’s Pet Castle has seen a 25 percent loss, business owner Clay Russell said.
Pike said 26 businesses along Bluff Street have also been forced to temporarily relocate due to the construction.
However, other business owners, like Ricardo Vaca from 3 Amigos Market and Mike Davis from BT Pearson tire, said they have not noticed a major drop in sales, although their customers may have been inconvenienced from crossing the construction site.
Pike said he recognizes this can be tough on businesses.
“In some cases, their business can be down 30-50 percent some days,” he said. “That’s why we want to do everything we can to alleviate as many concerns as we can because we want them to be here when this project is over.”
The biggest concern for some of the business owners is the access points, Pike said. In order to access many of the businesses along Bluff Street, customers have to cross dirt sections of the construction site. On rainy days, the access points can be muddy as well.
Hansen called the access “confusing.”
“We had one customer whose car turned into a mud hole once trying to get to (Kneaders).”
Hansen said she is hoping the city of St. George would help reimburse businesses along Bluff Street for lost sales — something Pike said the city will not do. What the city can do is offer alternatives businesses can do to advertise or place signage to indicate they’re still open through the construction period.
The city passed a temporary ordinance that allows businesses on Bluff Street to put up a freestanding 32-square-foot banner to indicate the business is still open, Pike said. They could also put a similar banner on their building.
Utah Department of Transportation has also placed blue signs marking all of the access points for the businesses.
“What we want them to be able to say is, ‘Hey, even though we’ve got this construction going on, we’re still open for business, folks,’” Pike said.
The city of St. George would also be willing to do some cooperative advertising to further spread awareness for these businesses, Pike said.
On Thursday, Pike started to personally visit with business owners of every business along Bluff Street to hand them flyers with information about the new temporary city ordinance for signage.
Once construction finishes on the west side of Bluff Street and moves to the east side, Pike said he will also meet with representatives from every business on that side of the street as well.
“I’m personally committed to go to every business, share with them this information on the signage and see if there’s anything else we can help with,” Pike said.
When the construction project is completed around November 2018, Pike said he hopes the business owners will be much happier with the final product.
“The access will be great (and) there will be some deceleration turn lanes that will help people even more than the previous street would allow,” Pike said. “If we could just all together make it through the next months, it will be better on the other end.”
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