Madrona News Editor Barbara Parker writes this month’s editorial. We both received calls from a worried business owner and Barbara graciously offered to write up the concerns.
The 23rd Ave. construction mess has created many challenges, but especially for small business owners on and near 23rd Ave. At present, only a single southbound lane of 23rd is open from Union to Jackson, and soon there will also be a southbound lane only along 23rd to Madison. And as we all know, cross streets are frequently closed for utility and other work, creating additional challenges for small business owners. But the construction mess is not going to get better soon. The timeline for completing work from Jackson to Cherry started late and is going to be extended by at least three months; construction between Cherry and Union was started earlier than planned; and it is not a sure bet that any phase of the project will be completed as scheduled.
A group of business owners on and near affected areas of 23rd met in late Jan. to discuss their concerns. Together, they agree that something they really need is for the public to be aware that businesses are open and need the public to support local area shops. Small business owners are especially vulnerable to downturns in traffic, so it is up to us to remember that and make every effort to boost our presence at businesses on and near the 23rd Ave. Doing so could be the crucial element to sustain small businesses and keep our neighborhoods interesting and exciting.
Going forward, small business owners intend to meet to collaborate on tactics that can help keep them all in business. Those assembled represent a wide range of businesses all along 23rd, including Earl’s Cuts & Styles; Oda Barber Shop (which closed because of the construction); Update Barber Shop, Uncle Ike’s; Sea Suds; 99 Cent Plus; Arco AM/PM; Magic Dragon Chinese Eatery; WGM Jeweler & Company; 701 Coffee; Midtown Center; and Flowers Just 4-U. For information about future meetings, please contact Sara Brereton at 701 Coffee at 779-5482 or 701coffee@gmailcom.
Following a Seattle Times front page article in early Feb. explaining the plight of 23rd Ave. merchants affected by construction, the City of Seattle agreed to reorder its construction schedule to reopen 23rd between Jackson and Yesler in March, one to two months earlier than currently planned. The Office of Economic Development will also provide $102,000 of new funding for marketing the area and business support — but not direct mitigation payments to area businesses. The city said the additional funding follows recent grants of $220,000 for “economic and cultural development projects” in the Central District.
So for now: keep patronizing these businesses or stop in for the first time to show your support for small business owners in and near 23rd Ave.
~Barbara Parker, Madrona News Editor
Note from Leschi News Editor: It has since been clarified by the city’s Office of Economic Development that the promised $102,000 is NOT in addition to the previously promised $200,000 but is in fact, a reduction to $102, 000 despite the economic hardship. Many of these businesses are months behind in rent.