Jackhammers. Back hoes. Construction workers. Dump trucks. Gravel. Dust.
In the suburbs, construction is a mild nuisance. In an urban area, it can be down right disruptive, particularly so if the neighbors of the construction don’t feel like they are getting any relief. And, the problems will continue to arise as more developers dig into the tight urban spots.
Mambu and Da Vinci’s Gourmet Pizza are among the latest to learn about those challenges.
Both sit on Hayes Street behind the former office building now being converted into Hutton Hotel, which fronts West End Avenue.
Next year, that hotel could be a boon for the businesses. But in the meantime, the construction work has put a dent into the dining revenues.
“My business is practically gone at lunch,” said Anita Hartel, one of the Mambu owners.
Hartel said business is down 50 percent and no one is using the patio during lunch in the prime part of the season.
Da Vinci’s owners say their business was off 30 percent last month and patio business has vanished. In fact, they think they could lose up to $100,000 this year, putting survival in question.
Others at different times and different places have experienced the same headaches urban construction cause.
Building the downtown library drew complaints. Straightening Church Street drew complaints from downtown residents because of nighttime construction to avoid snarling traffic and creating other problems during the day.
For whichever entity is doing the construction, they are basically in a no-win situation from the get go.
When the Adelicia was under construction across from South Street Restaurant, the Nashville-based Corner Realty Partners worked with that eatery, Bound’ry and others to keep the disruption at a minimum during lunch. The challenge there was dealing with requests for concessions that had merit. But the approach was to make sure the construction crew was following the city’s rules and minimize inconvenience when possible.
Metro Public Works tries to be proactive in establishing meetings between the parties affected and the effecting parties. Still, there’s a fine line between minimizing the construction’s impact and making sure the work gets done on time and within budget.
With the Hayes Street merchants, there have been meetings and will be more between the developer, the city and the businesses. There have been conditions presented on various aspects of construction.
For instance, one proposed arrangement was no jackhammer work during lunch. That one hasn’t been followed.
Other arrangements included signage to let people know the restaurants were there and apparently that hasn’t happened either.
Metro Public Works has the challenge of trying to hold the construction company — in Hutton Hotel’s case, Bell & Associates Construction — to the arrangements. A guy would have to be a sentry at the site to make sure, and the city just doesn’t have the manpower for that.
The construction company just wants to get the work done. It is on a timetable that may have a financial penalty if not met.
Hutton Hotel’s developer, Philadelphia-based Amerimar Enterprises doesn’t have someone on the ground yet representing the hotel. Perhaps when the general manager moves here, which is imminent, some of the issues will go away.
In the mean time, the restaurants continue to do business just less of it during the construction.
Presumably, the revenues made after the hotel opens will more than make up for what was lost. They just have to survive that long.