The shops on the Ninth Street are facing a slowdown in their businesses due to the on-going construction as part of the District of Houston’s Downtown Revitalization Project. District, aware of the disruption that the construction work is causing, is hoping to open the street for traffic, by the end of September.
The Downtown Revitalization Project or the Move Around Downtown revitalization project, to replace the old infrastructure and beautiful Ninth Street, commenced on June 2. This construction work however, has been causing a lot of disruption for the shops on the street as people are no longer able to access the street from the Ninth Street and there is no parking available on the street either.
Shops on the Ninth Street have suffered as a result of this, with their businesses down almost 20 to 30 per cent. However, according the the district, this project was more than just about beautification. Houston businesses located on Ninth Street, encourage residents to still shop as much as they can and to use alternative parking at the back or the side parking of the businesses. Some businesses are also opened to allowing customers through their back entrance if necessary, with some stores offering the service of calling into the store to make arrangements to purchase items.
“For years, we have talked about making the community more appealing for people that live there, for visitors, and trying to attract people to come and work there so that’s been one major thing and plus we have had a lot of infrastructure falling apart underneath the streets,” said Mayor Shane Brienen.
The district while recognizing the issues around the construction, has been giving regular social media updates around the progress of the construction. In a post they did on Aug. 13, they highlighted the possible accesses and parking lots for the residents to access the stores on Ninth Street.
When asked about whether the district is doing anything to compensate the businesses however, Councillor Tom Euverman explained how the district has managed to not put any monetary pressure of the project costs on the businesses.
“Here is the way I see it — We applied for money, for infrastructure in the town and so the town received quite a few grants and this is all being done from money from grants. What normally happens when major work is done on retail streets is that a portion of the cost is charged to the merchants but in this case, the merchants aren’t being charged what they would normally be charged,” said Euverman.
He also told Houston Today that he spoke with several merchants about the project and they did mention the slow down in their businesses, some more than others, but they are looking forward to being open.
“The whole idea is that the street would be modern and up-to-date, and that it would create extra sales after that point. Basically, the merchants told me, they are accepting the short term downturn for long term improvement,” he said.
The construction work, that has already been going on for two months, is expected to be completed by Oct. 2 with minor work left to do for Spring, according to the Mayor.
“The idea of the Ninth Street project is to have the beautification and make the businesses be stronger in the long term. We do realize that there is some short term pain there but hopefully there would be some gain on the other end,” said Brienen.