Two months after the June 12 street closures on certain blocks of Olde Town, the Business Improvement District (BID) announced that the closures would be extended through Nov. 3. Originally, the …
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Two months after the June 12 street closures on certain blocks of Olde Town, the Business Improvement District (BID) announced that the closures would be extended through Nov. 3. Originally, the street closures were scheduled to last through Labor Day.
The plan behind the closures has been to give businesses more space to expand their patios and storefronts out into the street and allow more walking room for pedestrians that are following social distancing guidelines.
“When the initial date (of Labor Day) was set, I think everyone was hopeful that by this time, things would be back to normal,” said Joe Hengstler, executive director of the BID. But with many regulations, including a statewide mask order, still in place, “we wanted to do everything we could to keep people down here.”
The street closures span Grandview Avenue from Olde Wadsworth Boulevard to Webster Street as well as sections of Olde Wadsworth from Grant Place to Grandview Avenue. The section on Olde Wadsworth between 57th Avenue and Grant Place will open back up on Oct. 14, as opposed to Nov. 3, related to ongoing construction of Ralston Road.
“Every time we announce something regarding the street closures or highlight something new we've added, we always get a ton of positive feedback from the community. We have people saying `I wouldn't come down to Olde Town if it wasn't like this,'” Hengstler said. “Especially on the weekends, we can see the streets are activated.”
In July, through a survey conducted by the BID and its partners, 88% of businesses surveyed about the street closures reported either achieving their usual sales numbers or seeing an increase from those numbers since the closures began. The survey included Olde Town businesses both in and outside the closure areas.
Ian Walsh, the store lead at jewelry store Crystal Joys at 5655 Olde Wadsworth Blvd., within the closure area, reported the same experience, saying the store's numbers aren't down from summer 2019 to summer 2020.
“Since the road closures, almost everyone who comes here is buying something,” he said. “Outside, it seems like a lot of people are still down here. For me personally, I would love it if it stayed like this.”
Just outside the closure area at Smokin' Fins, 7600 Grandview Ave., business also hasn't taken a hit in recent months, even in the midst of a global pandemic. With the help of the BID, the restaurant has expanded its patio the way many restaurants within the closure area have, said Dave Reed, operations manager.
“We're currently matching if not beating last year's numbers, with a 50% capacity,” he said. “If it wasn't for the patio, we'd probably be down 20 to 30%. It's kept us afloat.”
Reed praised the idea of the street closures and their extension, saying the expanded patios, room to walkaround and music benefit the Olde Town area as a whole.
“Having everyone sitting outside, it helps bring the community together,” he said. “It brings a level of safety and brings more people into the area.”
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