Construction on lower Main slows business
Lower Main Street is normally bustling with activity, but, as of late, much of the commotion is being made by shovels and sanders, paint brushes and power drills.
With construction projects slowing traffic at Heber and Main, as well as taking up the sidewalk at 608 Main, several businesses in the area are seeing the hammer drop on profits.
Gary Crandall, owner of Wild Spirits located next to the construction at 608 Main Street, said that the work has been detrimental to his business and his bottom line.
"We’re down 25 percent from last year," Crandall said. "For a while, when they first started the construction, and they hadn’t put in the walkway, that we had days where we had nobody come into the store."
Crandall said he has days on which he doesn’t see a customer, something he blames on the nearby construction project.
"Some days they have to shutdown the sidewalk, which is understandable because safety is important, but it hurts. It definitely hurts," he said. "The walkway has helped. With it at least people can get up and down the sidewalk."
Although most of the store owners in the area have an opinion on the matter, Ben Farquharson, owner of the Clockwork Café, takes a lighter, more philosophical approach.
"The project at Heber and Main has deterred some traffic because the area can be a little difficult to navigate, but I don’t think it has hurt us too much," said Farquharson. "And with the construction next door, a few tourists might cross the street, but I’m not worried about losing them as customers anyway."
Most of the lower Main Street business owners say they aren’t upset because there is construction, most are frustrated with the timing.
"When you author permits for construction in such a confined area, it’d be nice for the city to schedule it so there aren’t a bunch of projects in the same area all going at the same time, but that’s just my opinion," added Farquharson.
Linda M. Lee, who, with her husband Craig, owns the Taminah Gallery and the building at 608 Main Street also known as the Lower Hills Mall, said the work on the building is to make it more attractive on the inside and out.
The building is getting a new façade, Lee said. There will be storefront entry on both sides of the building, as well as the old entrance. Envy will reopen on the northside of the building, and Face will be open for the first time at 608 Main. The Taminah Gallery will also change its name to Montgomery-Lee Fine Art.
"It’s the same gallery, it’s just a new name," Lee said. "People just couldn’t remember Taminah. But after the construction is done we’ll be able to handle more art and have more space. We’ll also go from being the ugliest building on Main Street to one of the nicest looking buildings. It’s going to be metal and brick. It’ll be a very nice looking building."
But the Lee also said she didn’t know when the work would be finished.
"I wish I did," she said. "It was supposed to be done by now. The city held us up a lot. We had to keep redrawing the plans and modifying it. They lost our paperwork during the summer — it got filed instead of staying open. The construction was supposed to begin when the resorts closed in mid-April, but it didn’t get started until mid-June. I think we’ll be lucky if the building is done by September."
She said because of the late start, the cost of building supplies has gone up, which has led to the project becoming more and more expensive by the day. Much like many of the other merchants, she said she sees it as a failure within the system.
"Park City is very difficult to deal with," she said. "They don’t seem to care if things get done in a timely manner or not. We thought that since we were making such an improvement they would want to get it done. We apologize to all our fellow retail businesses in the area, but that’s how it goes. We wanted it done before this as well."
Jay Flint, vice president of Main Street’s Overland Outfitters, said that the delays and subsequent poor timing have cost his store a 25-percent decrease in foot traffic and "lost thousands and thousands of dollars."
"I think that all the construction hurts, including the work on Heber and Main, because we have two restaurants that are closed, so people are eating elsewhere, which takes away traffic from lower Main," he said. "But, in the long term, the construction is going to be good for the area and bring in more traffic, but in the short term we have to deal with a severe slowdown."
Flint doesn’t fault Lee, but instead looks to the city for more regulation of construction projects in the area.
"Permits should be issued for remodels in the true off-season of April, May, June and the fall," he said. "Businesses on the lower end of the street have literally closed because of it and this store has gone without foot traffic for several days since it began.
"A business owner should have the right to improve his property, but to me it’s the town’s responsibility to make it fair for the surrounding businesses. The government is supposed to mediate fairness, but in this case, our town did not look out for us."
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