Some London stores say the Old East Village construction project has hurt business and they fear its completion will fix it.
The project began on March 15 and continues until next week, closing the section of Dundas Street between Adelaide and English Streets. This is the final phase of the project.
One of the objectives of the project was to create a “complete street”, leaving room for pedestrians, bicycles and other vehicles. It was to be a “community center” for residents, while attracting people from all over the city. It was also to solve problems with water pipes and sewers, among other underground problems.
In the long run, Malcolm Watson doesn’t think the improvements to the streets will be worth it for their business. He runs Old East Exchange, a second-hand furniture store on Dundas Street, owned by his sister.
“What was wrong on the street?” ” he said. “There was nothing wrong with that. They had to fix it, the plumbing and so forth underneath, they had to do it but the design: it was good.”
He says their sales have been cut in half due to a number of factors, including COVID, but construction has also played a role.
“The construction is tough,” said Mark Navackas, CFO of Fireroasted Coffee Company. “It’s tough on small business so you can’t see it, but we don’t have a cafe here anymore. We just closed it because there was no foot traffic. nobody is passing. “
After noticing that they only had six customers one day, and a few more at their Old East Village store, they decided it didn’t make sense to keep it open.
“So that had a huge impact on things,” Navackas said. “And this neighborhood in particular, and even with city centers, when there is no foot traffic and no one around, it invites other activities.”
The owner of vintage furniture store, Funky Find, David Thomson, has also noticed a dramatic decrease in foot traffic due to construction. He said over the past few months he would get a client or two a day.
“Well, sad to say, but the virus money is the only reason I’m still here,” Thompson said. “I mean, at this point it’s the road, not the virus that keeps people away, but getting the small amount kept me going here.”
He thinks the project will be good for business in time, but jokes that he is older now and said he could have looked forward to it had he been younger.
“I hope that when the road opens up people start to come down here again,” he said. “Sometimes people are afraid to come here, so we’ll see what happens.”
There will be an official reopening on November 13.