As the City of North Bend continues construction on its Downtown Plaza Project that will remodel part of the downtown core with new sidewalks, utility replacements and a redesigned intersection, it is putting extra effort into helping businesses affected by closed streets, missing sidewalks and ongoing construction.
Georgia’s Bakery and North Bend Nutrition Center owners spoke at the September 5th city council meeting, asking for more support to help remind residents they are open and direct patrons to their businesses.
Georgia’s owner Steve Teodosiadis said since the sidewalk in front of the bakery was removed two weeks ago, his business had declined 30%. Since the three-week closure of North Bend Way between Main Avenue and Ballarat Ave began on September 5th, he said sales had dropped 60%.
Project Needed, but Businesses want more support
During the council meeting Teodosiadis commented that although he knew the project was needed and had his support, he didn’t expect business to decline this badly. He hoped the city would make good on the promise it made to business owners during earlier meetings about the project – a promise to make a big effort to help bring customers into the downtown area during construction.
Business owners requested different locations for street closed signs, larger and more visible “Businesses Open During Construction” signage and better signage directing patrons to alternate parking locations.
On Wednesday, September 6th, the city announced via press release that it had installed eight new “Businesses are open During Construction” signs at the road closure locations and also added sandwich boards stating businesses were open and where alternative parking was located, along with balloons near the signs.
By Thursday, September 7th, a new, city-hired dancing sign holder was at the corner of Bendigo Blvd and North Bend Way, which was the idea of Public Works Director Mark Rigos after hearing feedback at Tuesday’s council meeting.
Rigos said, “After hearing public comments, I decided to also hire a sign spinner to draw even more attention to the open businesses.”
According to the city, sign spinner Tony Sims also sings, dances and does cartwheels to draw attention. Tony said, “I love being here. The people passing by and working here are so nice.” [Apparently Nancy Wray from Birches Habitat even welcomed Tony to town by buying him lunch.]
North Bend Downtown Plaza Project Timeline
The downtown plaza construction – which began in July – is expected to last through November, with the goal of creating a safer environment for pedestrians and traffic through the downtown corridor. The city says when completed, downtown will be a more attractive and safe environment for shoppers and diners, with wider sidewalks, pedestrian amenities and traffic-calming features.
As for the sidewalk in front of Georgia’s Bakery, Steve said he’s hoping it will be completed this week which would then [hopefully] give cars access to the area of North Bend Way between Bendigo Blvd and Main Ave where that three-week closure starts.
Deputy Public Works Director Tom Mohr said reopening this section of North Bend Way is safety dependent. He said it could possibly happen Friday, September 8th or Monday, September 11th, but hinges on safety as there is still a lot of construction equipment and workers in the area.
The city says it is doing what it can to help promote downtown businesses during construction and encourages residents to tell friends and family to support their local businesses.