Business Impacted by Streetscape

ALBERT LEA, MN — It has been a while since the downtown traffic flow has been normal and the business are feeling the effects.

Some have already undergone the construction, some are dealing with it now and others are gearing up for it.

Some places such as the 112 on Broadway say they have seen a significant drop in business since the construction started in front of their building, but others across the street say their experience has not been quite as bad.

“There’s been a little bit of a dip, but for the most part it’s been just fine,” said Linda Knudsen, owner of Plymouth Shoe Store.

The reason Knudsen said her business has not been impacted as much is because of what she sells.

“I sell shoes, so it’s more of a necessity. Some people sell party gifts or things that they don’t really need and I’m more of a necessity, so I’ve seen a lot of traffic in the alley and the back parking lot,” Knudsen said.

She sees the light at the end of the tunnel. The sidewalks in front of her building are set to start going in on Monday and the road will soon follow.

Downtown business owners like her are being kept in the loop thanks to the construction company.

“The contractor has a website that says here’s what’s going on and here’s what’s proposed for next week. The city’s website is linked to that, we’ve been sending out monthly newsletters,” said City Engineer Steven Jahnke.

There have been face-to-face interactions as well.

“We have a meeting every Wednesday morning at nine that we invite all of the businesses and usually the people that are affected at that time usually come to the meeting,” Jahnke said.

That is exactly what businesses that will soon be dealing with the construction are doing.

“They do a really good job of letting you know what’s going to be happening, how it’s going to be happening and if there’s an issue that you need to address,” said Kirk Foley, owner of Prairie Winds Coffee.

What Foley has learned is that his stretch of road will be getting dug up the week of August 12th. That is why he has already got a plan of attack. They will be hiding artwork all around the city and whoever finds one gets a free cup of coffee. They hope it will help bring in business while the construction is underway.

“We have an artist who did some little three by fives for us, they are acrylic, signed originals and you come in on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesdays and you buy a coffee and get a clue,” Foley said.

The businesses looking on know their time will come. They know the downside will be temporary and the upside is just around the corner.

Jahnke said the weather did delay things a bit but the street work is still expected to be done by the end of September and the park restoration should be done by the end of October.

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