Businesses grin and bear GAPP
GAPP might not make for the best business for Grand Avenue merchants, but it provides for some pretty good theater.Hunter Antonides, owner of Glenwood Travel King, stood outside his business on a rainy Tuesday morning and watched with admiration as crews from Concrete Works of Colorado ripped pool-table-sized slabs of asphalt pavement up on Grand Avenue and deftly dropped them into trucks to be carried away.”These guys are professionals. They’re moving right along,” Antonides said.The contractor for the Colorado Department of Transportation proved its ability to move fast last fall during the first half of the Grand Avenue Paving Project.That portion took place farther south on Grand. On Monday, the work shifted to the city’s downtown core, leaving businesses to wonder how much of an impact the work just outside their doors would have on them.Inside Glenwood Travel King, employees could feel the impact of the work itself, as chunks of pavement shook the office as they fell into trucks.”When they drop stuff in there you do feel it,” said travel consultant Linda Pawlak.Luckily for the travel agency, much of its business is done over the phone, and it’s not too reliant on walk-in traffic. Down the street at Anderson’s Clothing, manager Heidi Rung contemplated decorating the store window with construction tape and “Road Work Ahead” signs to get in the spirit of things.”We’ll see if we can get some traffic in here,” she said against the backdrop of a truck “beep-beeping” as it backed up outside her door. “There’s nothing else you can do. I guess they have to get it done, so what are you going to do?”Rung was pleasantly surprised by the business the store did Monday. And she noted that when the city replaced water lines on Grand, Anderson’s got some new customers because people used to parking outside nearby businesses had to walk by the clothing store to get to them instead.Across the street, Joan Chaffin of Mountain Peddler is curious whether customers will be willing to park farther away from businesses and still patronize them.It’s still too early to tell, but like Anderson’s Clothing, Mountain Peddler also had a surprisingly good day Monday.But Chaffin still is trying to understand why CDOT decided to do the Ninth and 10th street portions of Grand first, and the Eighth Street intersection and the bottom of Grand Avenue in the spring, rather than vice versa as originally had been planned. Chaffin said she thinks more merchants will be hurt by the later work, just when their seasonal business would be picking up.CDOT decided on the change because it wanted to do the hardest part of GAPP – the bridge work – during warmer weather when contractors could work the fastest. Also, the lower part of Grand should face fewer drainage problems that time of year.Chaffin plans to make the best of what slowdown GAPP might bring by seizing the opportunity to spruce up her store. She had a paintbrush in hand Tuesday. She’s also bracing herself for the opening of the Glenwood Meadows retail stores late this year by trying to bring in more unique, handcrafted items not available at chain stores.”I’m trying to make my store look less stamped out and more stylish, more inviting,” she said.After running Mountain Peddler for 28 years, Chaffin now faces the twin challenges of GAPP and Glenwood Meadows. Whether her business can survive them also may determine whether she can continue to afford to live in Glenwood Springs, she said.Back at Anderson’s Clothing, Rung has a shorter-term challenge on her mind. A loss of downtown parking due to GAPP made it impossible for her to find a day-long place to park her car before work, and she ended up in a two-hour spot.”I’m going to have to go and do the two-hour shuffle,” she said.
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Sitting at the base of Sunlight Mountain, Larry Strohmeyer pictures a perfect day for skiing — a warm, spring day with a bluebird sky and a fresh layer of powder covering the slopes.