Downtown work zone merchants gird for 6-month closure

Business owners in the 100, 200 and 300 blocks of Main Street are offering customers extra incentives to navigate the construction outside during the next six months.

Sidewalks are still open, but Main Street in front of the stores will be closed through June for the first phase of the Downtown Uplift project.

The two-phase Downtown Uplift project involves replacing sidewalks, storm drains, waterlines and lighting along seven downtown blocks.

During construction, Pablo’s Pizza, at 319 Main St., will offer weekly coupons to people on the restaurant’s e-mail list. Pablo’s also has partnered with next-door neighbor Pollux Clothing Co., 321 Main St., to offer 10 percent off any pizza order when a customer brings in a receipt for $30 or more spent at Pollux in January.

Pollux will offer 10 percent off a purchase at their store when a customer brings in a receipt for a 12- or 18-inch pizza bought at Pablo’s this month.

Pablo’s Owner Paul Knaysi said retailers and restaurateurs in the 300 block also are trying to organize a block party that would likely take place in February. Businesses would stay open late that day “and have a celebration of dirt and construction,” Knaysi said.

Knaysi said he isn’t sure what will happen to sales during the construction, but he hopes people will continue to pop in for a slice.

“It’s easy to think negatively, but really you have to walk a half a block,” he said.

If patronage severely slows down in the first month of construction, Knaysi plans to crank up the offers.

“If January is awful, we’ll probably have some really screaming deals in February,” he said.

While some businesses contacted Monday had plans for getting through the next six months, others were still formulating ideas.

Wendy Hayduck, who owns Girlfriends at 316 Main St., said the store is concentrating on clearing out fall and winter merchandise at the moment, but she’ll likely participate in future events on the block during construction.

Hayduck said “one can’t help but be concerned” the construction will detour customers.

“We are just hoping people will still remember us down here,” she said.

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