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Minneapolis businesses bearing brunt of summertime construction

Construction woes across Minneapolis having big impact on small businesses
Construction woes across Minneapolis having big impact on small businesses 02:05

MINNEAPOLIS — Orange cones and dust mark much of northeast Minneapolis along East Hennepin Avenue.

Fletcher's Ice Cream & Cafe Owner Jason Fletcher said his normal business is steering clear because of it.

"Our daytime business has gone from a decent amount of lunch business, to nothing almost," said Fletcher. "We've seen other businesses closing for lunch and closing for their whole morning."

According to the Hennepin County website, the roadway improvement project on Hennepin and First avenues will help improve safety by creating separate bike paths, transit priority lanes and wider sidewalks, with a completion date of fall 2024.

When construction wraps up, Fletcher said he stands to lose well over $100,000 in business.

"Construction season is a real challenge to our local businesses, this season in particular," said John Larkey, President of NIEBNA, Nicollet Island-East Bank Neighborhood Association.

In response, NIEBNA has launched a monthly business forum to help businesses like Fletcher's. However Fletcher said he's too strapped for time running his business.

"It's time we don't have to allocate to that," said Fletcher.

Meanwhile, several Linden Hills businesses near Upton Avenue said foot traffic is slim to none due to construction.

"It's a little bit crazy, it's a little bit day to day. It has definitely negatively impacted our top line," said Jen Bellefleur, Owner of New Gild Jewelers. "To be honest, I knew it would be terrible, but that did not stop it from surprising me."

According to the city of Minneapolis, the work at Upton Avenue and 43rd Street is being done in advance of Metropolitan Council's construction of a station for the Bus Rapid Transit E Line, where sewer and water lines, well over 100 years old, are being replaced. Workers are on schedule to complete work by June, according to a city spokesperson.

Bellefleur said she has taken a number of social media initiatives, while also trying to target new audiences to combat construction.

"It's had a really negative impact, I'm not going to lie. It's hard for the people who love us to get to us," said Bellefleur.

For weeks now, The Linden Hills Neighborhood Council has held an initiative to get foot traffic back by giving away gift cards, donated from local businesses, some for more than $100.

"You know I don't know if it's helped, but I know it makes us feel good," said Bellefleur.

Despite everything, Bellefleur said her business will persevere.

"We survived the pandemic and I'm confident we'll survive this too," said Bellefleur.

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