Friday, October 16, 2009

Raising Hell for Business Mitigation

LRT construction in downtown St. Paul started since July. Two businesses are losing customers, Prada Cafe and Senor Wong (see my two last posts below). AEDA asked the owner of Senor Wong yesterday at the UABA business meeting why there was no signage to direct customers to his restaurant.

Met Council was at the meeting. They said signage was put up yesterday (10/14/09). People were shocked. Why just yesterday?? The construction started in July.

Fred Gale was mad, he's from Congresswoman Betty McCollum office. He said Betty McCollum is concerned for small businesses in the Central Corridor. He couldn't believe there was no signage. Peter Bell gave his word signage would be in place to help businesses. Why didn't this happen downtown? He sounded like he was going to raise hell.

SOBJ later asked AEDA what this signage issue is about. Here's what AEDA wrote to us:

AEDA advocates for business mitigation funding as an option for businesses that will be negatively impacted by light rail transit construction. The Met Council has officially said they are against business mitigation funding. For a long time they have touted signage as one of the main strategies they would use during construction. (The other is marketing). They touted that construction signage would help businesses, pedestrians, and traffic. So it is really a mystery why they did not use adequate signage to help the businesses affected by construction for more than three months. Signage could have brought in more customers. As we know from talking with Senor Wong and Prada Cafe, they have lost up to 50% of their customers since construction started. Another issue that has not been discussed is the street closing. Senor Wong informed AEDA that Met Council told them traffic would be allowed through Fourth Street during construction. But as you can see if you go downtown, the whole street is closed off. Given these inconsistent and inadequate mitigation measures, we question the Met Council's mitigation plan. We would like to see that such a plan be available for the public and allowed for public input. If the construction does not complete on time before Winter, Senor Wong and Prada Café may not be able to weather through construction. Looking into the future, we hope that the Met Council will learn valuable lessons from Fourth Street and apply them to University Avenue, where inadequate mitigation measures would not affect just a handful of businesses, but thousands.
-- Asian Economic Development Association

Amen. All I have to say is, many businesses on University Avenue will not last three months like Senor Wong and Prada Cafe. it would be a nightmare, but don't be surprised if University Avenue is emptied of businesses after construction is down.

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