A dry run of wing-street closure

Lynn Burton
Post Independent Staff

The Grand Avenue water line construction project is settling the downtown wing-street debate for some folks.

“People who might have been indifferent to the pedestrian mall are now saying, `No, that’s not necessary,'” said Laura Speck, who manages The Silver Bead at 720 Grand Ave.

Speck and Glenwood Shoe Service owner David Stover both say the temporary closure of the wing street in the 700 block of Grand Avenue demonstrates that the short section of asphalt serves several functions.

It primarily gives northbound motorists one last chance to remain downtown before being routed over the Grand Avenue Bridge.

“Shutting off the wing street has been the worst part of this construction project,” said Stover, who has owned Glenwood Shoe Service at 714 Grand since 1973. “I think the street is important for traffic flow.”

The Grand Avenue water line project, which is ripping up the east side of the street from 7th Street to 10th Street and will finish Oct. 31, is generating noise, congestion, complaints and wry observations from downtown business owners.

Most downtown stores and restaurants in the 700 block on the east side of Grand Avenue report that when construction work started, their business took a dive.

“We’re down 20 to 25 percent,” said Sharon Wright, owner of Narcissus Hair Salon at 726 Grand Ave.

“We’re down 30 to 35 percent,” said Stover, at the shoe repair and sales shop.

“Our business is down, that’s for sure,” said Hole in the Wall Tattoos owner Sharon Fishbein.

“People are having a hard time finding any place to park,” said Gary Hoof, a part-time barber at King’s Barber Shop. “When they come in, they are usually 10 or 15 minutes late.”

Grand Avenue lost dozens of parking places when construction workers started digging up the main water line in August.

Wright said the street parking loss hurt her salon business, but it got worse when the city banned parking on its vacant lot at 8th and Colorado, the site of the old City Hall. “I think that is bizarre,” she said from her empty shop Thursday afternoon.

At Doc Holliday’s restaurant, bartender Holly Ring said her business is down, especially the lunch rush. “Now, people don’t come in until 2 p.m.,” Ring said, as a handful of diners nibbled burgers, and a couple of men sipped their beers at the Old West-style bar.

The people who do make their way into Doc Holliday’s often comment that the sidewalk is too narrow to comfortably walk on.

“There’s not enough room to walk side by side, so they have to walk one in front of the other,” Ring said.

Some people think Doc Holliday’s is closed due to construction.

“I see people walk by and peer in. Some people think our water is shut off, so they come in and ask, `Do you have water?'” Ring said.

To help boost business, Doc Holliday’s is offering 50 cents off menu items during lunch. As for advice to the city, Ring said the project would have worked better for businesses had it been scheduled closer to the winter.

“People are still coming to Glenwood for vacation,” she said.

Most business owners said they haven’t thought much about next year’s Grand Avenue Paving Project (the GAPP), which will close sections of Grand Avenue from 8th Street to 23rd Street for 11 months.

“I can’t imagine that it will help much,” said Hoop at King’s Barber Salon.

Contact Lynn Burton: 945-8515, ext. 534

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