Business owners say Front St. overhaul will hurt business

Reported by Claire Simms - bio|email
Posted by Kristy Ondo - email

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Front Street in downtown Wilmington will see some drastic changes over the next year. The city is planning a major overhaul of the street, while Cape Fear Public Utility Authority installs new water and sewer lines.

The plan has some business owners worried that the project will dig into their bottom line.

Among the planned improvements are new sewers, streets, sidewalks, and lights to spruce up the entire area.

"It's going to make it more pedestrian-friendly, you know, give it a facelift, an upgrade and attract more people downtown," said Richard King, director of Wilmington Public Services.

The city gave people a preview of the project Thursday night. Work will begin in January, which is not sitting well with some business owners who say they already know what to expect after living through repairs on Water Street earlier this year.

"[It's] very frustrating, going to work every day and having the construction workers and the way the city put up the fences," said Evolve Image Studios owner Ray Baca. "The way it was, it just looked really sloppy."

Some worry about the impact the project will have on their livelihoods, especially because the construction is slated to last eight months, overlapping the summer tourist season.

City officials say the work has to be done. Some of the infrastructure and pipes have been in place for over a hundred years, and city leaders say in the end, the work will be worth the hassle.

"We're going to work with people in the best way we can, but there's going to be some inconvenience," said Wilmington City Councilman Earl Sheridan. "You can't get around that, but we're going to work with folks to make this as painless as possible."

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