Nicollet Avenue. 10 blocks of craggy, hard-on-the-coccyx asphalt in desperate need of repair before it reverts to its all-dirt roots. But with the road being rebuilt starting this week, one block at a time until Oct. 2013, will business owners be able to survive the impending disruptions?
"What's the first thing you think of when I say 'Central Corridor," Matt Perry, head of the Nicollet-East Harriet Business Association (NEHBA) asked Patch. "You think 'construction,' and your brain thinks 'I'm not driving that.' That's exactly what we want to avoid."
Instead Perry and Jen Borger, a NEHBA staffer helping businesses weather the construction, said the association is trying to make sure customers realize they still can get to whatever business—tattoo parlors, grocery stores, restaurants, auto body shops—they normally visit.
"It's always going to be a problem," Borger said. "Construction sucks and that's the fact of the matter, but it's doable with a few tweaks."
Borger said the city and NEHBA worked together to place signs on detour streets to show drivers where to turn for a particular business. While construction is going on, some businesses might opt for a "Great Facades" grant from the city, to help rehab their storefront and make it stand out all the more amidst the neon safety vests and brightly-colored machinery. Even the signs directing motorists around construction have gotten attention from NEHBA, with the association lobbying for wording like “Access to 33rd” rather than the traditional "Local access only."
The whole idea, Borger said, is to emphasize that businesses are still open, and accessible, trying to fight any public perceptions that Nicollet is closed between Lake and 40th, or overly difficult to access.
"This is a 2 year project," Borger said. "Businesses need customers over that time if they want to survive."