Wednesday April 16, 2014

Businesses rebounding after Tranquille corridor construction

Business owners who lost tens of thousands of dollars while the City upgraded infrastructure along the Tranquille Road corridor want customers to know it's safe to come back.

Some like Renato Uliana, who owns Sorriso Restaurant and Deli and Bruno's Cold Beer and Wine, lost a combined $45,000 during the months of construction.

Traffic gridlock caused by the work is to blame, he said. Uliana also lost parking spots in front of his businesses while the sidewalk was widened and new streetlights and a bike path installed. Access to his parking lot was also blocked.

"I will never recover that money," Uliana said Monday. "I need my customers."

Work began in August and was supposed to wrap up by Oct. 15. He said it's technically not done yet, although the flow of traffic along Tranquille is no longer hindered.

Customers have started to come back to Sorriso, but the cold beer and wine store isn't busy, said Uliana.

"It's a lot better now," he said. "It's going to take some time, a lot of hard work and some promos to get the customers back."

Dean Hicks also took a sizable hit at Interior Crafts and Hobbies. He said business was "brutal" for about three months when construction was at its peak and traffic slowed to a crawl.

"I sat around and did nothing," said Hicks. "Our sales for October and November were down $32,000."

Interior Crafts and Hobbies is a destination shop, said Hicks. People come to him for specific products, so he still got some business.

Hicks said customers are slowly returning, although Tranquille isn't as busy as it was. He and Uliana want people to know the road is clear and customers are welcome.

Both men appreciate the upgrades, and say they are an improvement.

Steven Puhallo, executive director of the North Shore Business Improvement Association, said many businesses took a hit along the corridor. Although customers are slowly coming back, this will take a while.

Puhallo echoed Hicks and Uliana by saying people are invited to shop the North Shore.

"All the main areas that created traffic disruption are done," he said. "We encourage people to come out and visit these areas that were really affected by the construction."

City capital projects manager Kristen Meersman thanked the businesses and public for their patience. She suggested people check out the upgrades and visit the shops and restaurants.

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