A significant streetscaping project on Livernois Avenue intended to improve walkability along the Avenue of Fashion commercial corridor has, at least temporarily, had the opposite effect. Fewer lanes, a lack of parking, and impassable sidewalks has had an immediate and negative impact on local businesses.
Owners are wondering if they’ll be able to survive the summer, typically a time when business is best. Kuzzo’s Chicken and Waffles announced that it would close through November and overhaul its kitchen. The owner of the Narrow Way Café & Shop said that his businesses might have to shut down. Good Cakes and Bakes co-owner April Anderson told Detour Detroit that in-store orders have dropped by more than a third. Crain’s Detroit Business reports that others are delaying opening until construction stops.
Matt Hessler, the developer of the $8.3 million mixed-use rehab of the former B. Siegel building that’s expected to open in August, told Curbed Detroit in May that he’s enthusiastic about the changes long term, but isn’t happy about the timing of the construction.
The road work between Eight Mile Road and Margareta Street began in May and is part of a $80 million citywide streetscaping effort along several commercial corridors this summer. On Livernois, the city is removing the median, widening the sidewalks, and adding sidewalk-level bike lanes.
The work has been delayed by about four to six weeks because of rain, which likely means the upgrades will be done around spring next year instead of November this year.
The city is scrambling to help out struggling businesses affected by the construction. It’s providing free shuttle service to a “cash mob” on Friday (and subsequent first Fridays of the month) being organized by local businesses and association groups to encourage people to patronize shops on Livernois. The city has also worked out agreements with some local businesses to offer their parking lots to the general public.
The streetscaping projects will eventually make the area more attractive to businesses and patrons. The stores open just need to hang on until then.