Center Street construction puts strain on local businesses

Center Street renovations began almost two and a half months ago, and according to Gary Saxton of the Logan Downtown Alliance, the project is right on track.

“They have completed the first section of sidewalk up against all the buildings, so it is easy for patrons of those establishments to enter through the front door,” Saxton said.

According to Saxton, it looks like everything will be a go for the Center Street grand opening celebrations planned for the end of next month. He also said business is going better than most establishments on Center Street predicted it would during construction.

“People haven’t been staying away, that is for sure,” Saxton said.

The Utah Theatre is an exception to this trend, he said. During August and September, he said the theater saw fewer moviegoers than anticipated.

According to Gary Griffin, the manager of the Utah Theatre, he expected to see business going down during construction, but not as much as it did.

“Last month we probably lost 90 percent of what we normally do. I don’t know if that is because of the construction or the football movies I was showing,” Griffin said.

Things are already starting to look up this month, though. Griffin said more people came to a single showing of “Psycho” this week than came to the theater the whole month of September.

Griffin said overall he isn’t worried about this drop because he anticipates things going back to normal when the street opens again.

“It is going to be awesome,” Griffin said.

Gabriella Cale, co-owner of the recently opened Ah-Sigh-Ee restaurant on Center Street, said she doesn’t know what business would be like for her store under normal circumstances because they opened during construction, but they have seen foot traffic go down at the site.

“When we were renovating the building, the road wasn’t under construction at that point and there was a ton of foot traffic,” Cale said. “Then right when that construction started, that foot traffic kind of dissipated almost completely.”

Another challenge Cale said her shop is facing is that they thought the construction would be done by Oct. 21, but the most recent date they were told is Nov. 15.

Cale said they are making ends meet at the shop, but that she and her business owner weren’t anticipating it would be this bad. However, when the street reopens she believes the activities and events held on it will help their business.

During the renovations, the Downtown Alliance had wanted to use the chain link fence around the project to create a public art installation. However, there were only two parties who expressed interest, Saxton said.

“They are welcome to install their artwork,” Saxton said. “We thought there would be a larger community interest in that, but there was not.”

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