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Downtown Rochester construction causes headaches for small businesses

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) - With Rochester continuously growing, growing pains are becoming a part of life for many downtown.

But those pains are more than just traffic delays. The problem has to do with a conflict between space for those businesses and their customers, versus space for construction to safely operate.

The holiday season is where small businesses thrive -- but that's not the case for some downtown Rochester stores on 1st Avenue.

"Since December 1st, we're $14,000," owner of Tangerine, Joan Blakley-McCoy said. "Never in 20 years have been down that much. Ever."

Blakley-McCoy says the construction outside her store and the absence of three parking spots are the problem.

"I don't know what tomorrow's going to bring," she said. "Yeah, it's been unusually slow for us. Unusually slow."

The construction is part of the Heart of the City project -- in partnership with Destination Medical Center and Ryan Companies. The bagged meters come from Rochester's Department of Public Works.

"The work that's happening behind us with Ryan on the Wells Fargo building, that requires, for safety reasons, for the Northbound lanes to be closed," Department of Public Works Communications Coordinator Megan Moeller said. "So any traffic that's coming down here does need a spot to turn around...It provides a safe route for traveling vehicles."

But project delays have kept those parking spots closed longer than expected.

"I said, well when is it going to be done? The first week of December," Blakley-McCoy said. "Okay now its the 18th, 19th of December and here we sit. No parking for our customers."

While the construction is not a city project, staffers are trying their best to minimize the pain.

"We postponed the glass going on the Wells Fargo building until after the holiday season," Moeller said. "It is expected to happen in Janurary and we are expected to close both Northbound and Southbound traffic -- and that would be even more disruptive. So, trying to delay that until after the holiday season, to reduce the impact it has on adjacent property owners."

The project is expected to be complete in February.

Blakley-McCoy worries about future projects -- as this is just one phases of expected construction on the 1st Avenue downtown strip.

Beret Leone

Beret Leone

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