Businesses along the west side of the 700 and 800 blocks of Main Avenue have a new challenge most are taking in stride: Durangos sidewalk-improvement plan.
Construction threw some businesses quite a curve the first day or two, said Dennis Johnson, co-owner of Stuarts of Durango Inc.
In fact, Stuarts had no business the first day of construction, and it was very light the second day, he said.
Were now approaching last years numbers, but, Johnson said, it has had an impact on our business; were projecting (sales) to be down overall.
One significant issue is where customers will park during the work.
Parking seems to be the one (big) complaint, with the loss of about 15 spaces, Johnson noted.
Molly Noel-Barela, owner of Durango Trading Post, said the lack of parking spaces affects some people. But the bigger issue was access to the stores, because the original design for temporary access made it much harder for customers to actually get in the front doors, she said.
Business owners felt better about the project once the contractor put in planks, a boardwalk of sorts, Noel-Barela said.
She also said customer traffic flow has been decent, but slower.
The contractor and city have been respectful, letting us know whats going on, she said. Its not as pathetic as it could have been.
Noel-Barela said, Thank God this isnt happening in June.
The work is adhering to a fairly tight schedule, with each work phase scheduled to last about two weeks. All construction should end for the tourist season around June 1, with work resuming after tourist season is over in September, said City Engineer Gregg Boysen.
Another temporary downside to construction was a water-main problem. After causing a break, the contractor asked Noel-Barela where the main was, and she rhetorically asked shouldnt the city know, to which the contractor said no. They did find it, and the old line had a frozen valve, possibly from the fire of 1948, Noel-Barela said. It was fixed fairly quickly.
Gina Piccoli, president and co-owner of Coldwell Banker Heritage House Realtors, said the noise of the jackhammers at the start of the project was a problem, and also caused the water-supply issue.
We had a couple of days without water, Piccoli said.
Tom Mulligan, owner of Magpies Newstand Café, said it is unclear how much the construction has affected his business.
Its hard to know for sure, he said. March is a slow month.
He said, Obstructions always cause some slowdowns.
Still, hes had no complaints from customers, just questions about whats going on.
Everyone handles it pretty good, he said
If it was in the middle of summer, it would affect (businesses) a lot more, Piccoli said, echoing Noel-Barela.
What works for the businesses on her side of Main is a last-minute change in plans so that construction started on the west side rather than the east side, she said.
Were the first ones to get done, Piccoli said.
The Durango Business Improvement District sent a letter to help keep businesses informed of progress and new developments, she said.
Several business owners praised workers, who are really courteous and considerate, Piccoli said.
Coldwell Banker has some advantages compared with most neighboring businesses, Piccoli said.
Shes not as affected by construction because of the type of business, which relies less on walk-in traffic, plus her office is on the corner and has rear access.