WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Frustrated business owners on Water Street said the upcoming closure of parking spots outside their front doors is one more reason for crippling business.
The owners of Tugboat Tony's, Landon & Company and Imago said they have struggled to attract customers due to delays on the completion of River Place, a 12-story, mixed-use condominium building.
Now, the City of Wilmington plans to temporarily take away all the parking spots in front of the businesses as crews connect the development's new sewer line to the city system.
"I haven't done so many U-turns in my life," Anthony Savas, owner of Tugboat Tony's, said. "I don't know where our customers are going to be able to come and park. Everyone is suffering."
Dylan Lee, spokesperson for the city, said the closures will start Monday and are expected to be re-opened by July 4 at the latest. Owners worry even their regular customers' loyalty may waver before then.
"We aren't getting any new clients right now," Chad Bean, owner of Imago, said. "It's a disaster area, as you can see, so what we are worried about most is that our existing clients will say, "Yeah, it's getting a little difficult parking. Maybe I don't need to go downtown anymore.'"
Bean said the age range of his clientele varies from young kids to adults. But a hair salon two doors down often gives haircuts to the elderly and the owner said they've started to park up the hill near Front and Second streets.
"With them trying to get down this hill, it's a lot of obstacles," Wesley Keeton said when asked about his customers with health conditions. "They come in and they are blue."
Keeton said convenient spots in front of his business made him feel more comfortable about the customers getting to his place safely. He's calling on the developer to meet the completion deadline.
"Just more communication, that's all we are asking," Keeton said. "Just finish what you started."