A Greenwood barbershop’s business is down 50 percent and a nearby restaurant is losing about $1,000 a week, and both say that is due to construction that has closed Madison Avenue.
Small businesses in downtown Greenwood are losing business daily because of construction going on at Madison Avenue and Pearl Street, one block north of Main Street. The work has closed Madison Avenue, which business owners said is deterring people from stopping in.
The $2.5 million project along Pearl Street to replace a sewer line installed in the 1930s began in May and is supposed to be complete by Oct. 30. Work at Pearl Street and Madison Avenue was supposed to have the road closed for about two weeks, but rain has delayed work by about 20days. Crews are unable to work when it rains because the sewer line overflows, sending too much water through the pipe, Atlas Excavating Operations Manager Casey Dillon said.
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Now, Madison Avenue has been closed for more than a month. And businesses said they have lost walk-in business and regular customers because people are avoiding the area.
“There’s never going to be a good time to do it, but it has to be done. I understand their frustration, but at the same time we have to be responsible as a city to replace and repair those pipes,” Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers said. “It’s way behind schedule, but there’s nothing we can do to control the rain. We’re doing everything we can to let the public know those businesses are open.”
If the city had not done this project, homeowners and businesses in the area eventually wouldn’t have been able to flush their toilets, creating a bigger problem, Greenwood city engineer Mark Richards said.
Madison Avenue is set to open at Pearl Street on Wednesday, which should help businesses in the area, Richards said. And as work continues on Pearl Street, three crews will be working to get the project on schedule, he said.
But businesses said they have already been impacted.
Between The Bun, a popular restaurant that serves lunch and dinner, is down nearly $36,000 this year, and the majority of that loss has come since the construction began in May, owner Scott Sims said.
Sims is losing anywhere between $3,000 and $5,000 a month during his busiest time, April through July. If the slowdown continues in August and September, he worries he could have to close and go out of business by October, he said.
Construction work and “road closed” signs are deterring people from coming in because either they don’t think the restaurant is still open, or they go elsewhere because they don’t want to deal with it, Sims said.
“It’s been a nightmare,” Sims said. “I’ve got most of my life savings in this place and I just don’t know if we’re going to make it. I don’t have a cushion, or a stack of money I’m sitting on. I’ve been somewhat patient, but I wasn’t planning on this lasting all summer.”
The Bead Palace and Frameworks sit on the south side of the Madison Avenue road closure, and have each voiced concerns and complaints to the city about what the construction is doing to business.
Walt’s Barber Shop has also seen fewer customers during the construction. Walt’s usually serves between 60 to 80 people a day, but since the road closure and construction, that number is down nearly 50 percent, owner Elizabeth Groth said.
On Monday, Groth said the shop had about 30 customers throughout the entire day. Some customers are avoiding the area because of the road closure, and others don’t know if the business is still open during construction, she said.
“It’s killing us,” Groth said. “I’m just disappointed with the city. I’ve had to be completely proactive about it all, on my own. I’ve had to put up signs letting people know we are still open and get on our social media page and tell people they can still get to us.”
The city is aware of the struggles the businesses are reporting and helping them in every way possible, Myers said.
City employees have been encouraged to go to Between The Bun for lunch or dinner, or Walt’s Barber Shop for a haircut. The city has promoted the businesses on its website and through social media, as well as allowing the businesses to put signs up to notify people they’re still open, Myers said.
Construction hasn’t been the only issue for at least some of the businesses. Between the Bun and Walt’s have also had water shut off — with the restaurant losing water three times — adding to their frustrations. And both Sims and Groth said they were never notified their water would be turned off.
Indiana American Water had to shut off water to replace water mains and switch lines as part of the construction, External Affairs Manager Joe Loughmiller said.
Each time they shut off Sims’ water at Between The Bun, the restaurant was notified. In Groth’s instance, Indiana American Water shut off her water without notification because workers thought her shop was closed, Loughmiller said.
The company has apologized for the inconvenience, Loughmiller said.
“With the type of work being done in the area to accommodate the city’s sewer project, some disruption and service interruptions are unfortunately unavoidable,” Loughmiller said. “We strive to communicate ahead of time regarding our activities and to work with them to minimize the impact.”