Two weeks after Hennepin County construction crews began their assault on the old Lyndale Avenue bridge over Minnehaha Creek, shops and restaurants between the river and Highway 62 are saying business—so far—is holding up well.
“Business has been very consistent for us,” said Jennifer King, owner of . “The neighborhood is still being resilient and finding their way over here.”
King and her husband have been advising customers of alternate routes. Hennepin County has posted signs detouring cross-creek traffic to Penn Avenue, and bridges also exist on Nicollet, James, Logan Avenues, and on West Minnehaha Parkway near its intersection with 50th Street.
“Every single page in our website has a banner that says ‘In case you’re coming on Lyndale…,’" King said. “We survived the Crosstown (highway) getting redone. That was a big deal for us with people not being able to get off the highway to get to us.”
Across the street at , manager and wine buyer Mitch Zavada said business has been similarly unaffected by the bridge closure.
“If we can hold onto the neighborhood, we’ll be fine,” he said. “We’ve been a good neighborhood business for several years.”
Zavada said the real challenge will begin when work crews begin tearing up and rebuilding Lyndale Avenue, block by block.
“Then, in the summer, we won’t have the people who drive by and say to themselves ‘Oh, I need a six-pack,’" Zavada said, mimicking the screech of a car's breaks. “That’s a big part of business in the summer.”
Businesses are going to have to do different things to hold onto those impulse customers and regulars who can be counted on to “climb over a four-foot pile of dirt” to get to a business, said Matt Perry, head of the area business association.
The stretch of Lyndale slated for rebuilding will still be the fastest way to get to the freeway. Perry is more concerned about the Nicollet Avenue reconstruction project slated to begin later this year. He fears drivers detoured to Blaisdell and First Avenues will permanently swap those for their current Nicollet Avenue routes, depriving Nicollet businesses of those drop-in customers.