With Water Street construction finally underway, for the second time in recent years, local business owners are encouraging city residents and visitors of downtown to support them by making efforts to still shop local.
One of which was Apollo Pizza in Richmond, located on S. Second St., via a Facebook post that asked people to support the shops affected by the construction and to spread the message that the construction isn’t as bad as it seems.
“It's really not that hard to get there even though the construction makes it look that way. Coming from the east, you can still get in the regular parking lot. Coming from the west, you can park almost right across the street,” the post read. “Also, while this street project is going on, don't let it keep you from going down there to Subway, Pally's, First Gear and Wink's. It's going to take a minute to get this done, and we don't want to see our locally owned businesses suffer.”
In agreement was Ronda Taylor, owner of the Subway on Water Street for 30 years, who is now experiencing deja vu with the reconstruction.
“Once you get down here, it is not that bad,” she said. “Really, truly it’s not hard to get down here.”
The first time construction was done to help mitigate flooding on the appropriately named Water Street, Taylor says she understood the need for construction but financially, it impacted her business “hugely.”
“I understand it had to happen the first time, it was out of my control,” she said. “Having to go through this again, it is pretty bad.”
When she heard of the reconstruction, she again understood the need, but said she was more than just unhappy, she was devastated.
Between lack of parking and decreased accessibility, she told The Register, local businesses need the support of their customers.
“(Water Street business owners) are all people that care about Richmond and care about downtown and we need the local people to please understand that and support us,” she said.
And for Taylor, one person who is leading in support, is the city’s manager, Rob Minerich, who she says has been more than accommodating.
“The city manager has done everything in his power, he is more than great,” Taylor said.
Just Tuesday morning, in efforts to help the businesses on Water Street, Minerich told the commissioners and mayor about his proposed "Water Street Mitigation Plan" to help those affected.
Minerich noted the handful of businesses that touch Water Street that lost revenue and were hurt from the previous construction survived and that this time around, the administration is making an effort this time to get them through this project.
With the mitigation plan, Minerich discussed “ear marking” $50,000 from the city’s contingency fund, to set aside to help those businesses get through the next few months.
Business owners can apply for reimbursement by submitting an application to the city showing proof of a loss of profit because of the project, which the city will review.
“Let’s say for example one of the stores loses $20,000 over four months, they can apply for that and they would be reimbursed by the city to offset them and keep them afloat and hopefully stay in business through this,” Minerich said.
He said there were just three or four businesses that he thinks would be able to utilize this including Subway.
“I think this is fair, I think it helps our downtown businesses survive a project that was a mistake and done wrong in the first place,” Minerich said.
When Taylor heard of the proposed mitigation plan, she stated, “That would be fabulous. This administration is doing everything they can to make it up to us and I am so appreciative of how much they care, all the commissioners, the mayor and city manager.”
“I really think it would go a long way for the city to show that this gets paid to the businesses down on Water Street,” Minerich said. “They have had a tough go of it with this project, and even after the project was done the first time through, it affected businesses with people just not wanting to go down there.”
Minerich told the commission this plan was more to help cover expenses and a quick fix, as opposed to covering lost revenues, which would take longer waiting until after construction has passed.
“They could use it obviously for labor, for product, but they could use it say for mortgage payment and if they can come up with a loss of revenue number, it can be used for that as well,” Minerich said.
While Taylor says she has already experienced a “significant loss” in business in only two weeks of construction, she hopes that the Allen Co. will be able to finish the project by spring.
“This had to be done, no one wanted this, but this is just part of it,” she said sympathetically. “It is part of getting it right and fixing a problem.”
Until the project is finished, Pally's Liquor Store can be accessed via their entrance closest to S. Second Street, Subway can be accessed via the parking lot adjacent to their building, and Kentucky Shelf Life and First Gear can be accessed via First Street off of Main.
For more information about alternative routes, visit the city’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/communityrichmondky/.
The city commission will vote on the mitigation plan at their next meeting on Tuesday.