Businesses want city to compensate for streetcar disruption

ATLANTA (WXIA) – With construction of the Atlanta Streetcar project nearly complete, some business owners on Auburn Avenue say the city has unfinished business – compensation for months of disrupted business.

In some ways, this stretch of Auburn Avenue has not thrived like this in years. For example, in one stretch, there's a bakery, a beauty shop and an I.T. store – which just opened last weekend -- right next to each other.

On the other hand is a story that is kind of bittersweet for businesses who were there during construction of the Atlanta Streetcar project.

"I believe in the streetcar construction," said Devin Woodson.

Woodson was a believer -- that is, until construction went on outside the front of his lounge went on for months longer than he expected. Last year, Woodson closed Pal's Lounge, which his mother opened in the 1970s.

"The construction impacted my business in particular," Woodson said. "From the standpoint of customer parking."

"We didn't anticipate the fact that would be nowhere to park and no way to get through the street," said Alex Friedman of Pizzeria Vesuvius. "People are finicky – you know, if you can't get down the street, you're going to turn around and go somewhere else."

Some business owners who endured the streetcar construction said the financial impact of it was crushing.

"They said to ask for help, but you know, you don't ask for help unless you need it," said Denise Monet.

Hers is among the businesses who would like to see the city offer some kind of compensation for those businesses that stuck it out.

"We understand their concerns," said a city spokesman.

The city's spokesman says they expect those businesses to thrive, long-term.

"We think the long-term result from this investment is going to pay off greatly for them and for the city of Atlanta," he said.

The city says there are grants available with matching funds to some of these businesses as well as low-interest loans, but many of the business owners say that both of those processes are rife with red tape.


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