With construction about half complete, merchants affected by Bountiful's Main Street Redevelopment project still aren't convinced new sidewalks and flower boxes will bring more customers to their stores.
"I personally feel our worst time is yet to come because parking has been taken away," said Lois Pickett of Servus Drug, treasurer of Bountiful Main Street Merchants.For Pickett, the $1.5 million project, expected to be finished in late September, has meant a sharp decrease in customers since construction began in April.
"The design is similar to what they did in Salt Lake. I just wonder," Pickett said. "The downtown merchants have got a challenge ahead of them."
The project involves installing a concrete street, sidewalks and planters on Main Street from Fourth North to Fifth South. Work on the area from First North to Second South is expected to be completed by Aug. 1, in time for the Main Street Merchants' "Sidewalk Days" promotion, said Bountiful Redevelopment Agency Director Randy Sant.
Sant said the project will eventually pay off for merchants.
"The ultimate goal is become attractive to other businesses. It makes a statement that Bountiful is committed to do something with the downtown area," he said.
He said that the redevelopment is the first phase of attracting a major development downtown. The agency hopes to release details about a new development next month.
While economic planners predict growth after the construction, some business owners said they are wondering if they can survive while roads are blocked and sidewalks remain torn up. Sant said no business has closed as a result of the construction.
At Stark's Jewelry, owner Spencer Stark said the lack of sidewalks and blocked streets has seriously affected his business.
"It has taken too long and is short-sighted in the parking situation," he said.
Sant said that while the project has reduced angle parking on Main Street by 30 percent, off-street parking adjacent to Main Street has been added.
Carol James at Thoughtful Gifts said the downtown construction has particularly affected business during some their busiest holidays - Mother's Day, Father's Day and graduation. She hopes the improvements will eventually boost business.
"I feel like they really need to do something to dress up downtown," she said.
Viva Cloward at Viva's Design Center said the nature of her business - interior design - really hasn't been affected by the blocking of downtown traffic.
"There's no point in being negative. We have got to be positive. I looked out of the door the other day and definitely got a fantastic feeling," Cloward said.
Merchants and the Redevelopment Agency are already gearing up to pitch their new downtown with a series of television and newspaper advertisements. About 100 downtown merchants have contributed to the $11,000 campaign.
The television commercials will feature a "before and after look" at the downtown while emphasizing savings while construction is being completed, said Jeff Knight, chairman of the Main Street advertising committee.