A. Lee Graham firstname.lastname@example.org
When the West Seventh Street Bridge closed for reconstruction, nearby businesses had no idea how sales would be affected. Six weeks after the June 8 closure, some report sagging sales, but not enough to cause alarm.
“It has decreased our sales a bit,” said Shaquille Mathis, store manager at Chick-fil-A in Montgomery Plaza, just west of the bridge. Daily customer volume has dropped from about 1,100 to 1,000, Mathis said. Still, diners craving their daily sandwich fix have found alternate routes to the popular Carroll Street eatery.
Many take North Henderson Street to White Settlement Road just north of the restaurant, Mathis said. Those arriving from the east also take White Settlement or West Lancaster Avenue. “For the most part, customers coming in are mainly on our side of the bridge,” said Mathis, referring to those from the Cultural District and other areas west of downtown. Another Montgomery Plaza business continues to do brisk business with no sales slump. “Customers don’t need to come to us because we deliver,” said Kayla Fabrizius, store manager at Edible Arrangements, which is tucked into the breezeway of the Montgomery Ward building fronting West Seventh Street. Still, she said, many shoppers do stop in for fruit and candy gifts. Those strolling by may spot the store, but it mostly goes unnoticed by those patronizing Pei Wei and other tenants lining the east and west sides of the shaded promenade.
“Construction started around Mother’s Day, which is a big day for us,” Fabrizius said. “It was a little bit of a struggle [for customers] to go through West Lancaster or other roads, but they’ve discovered new ways of getting here.” That’s an upside to what some consider a daily headache – namely, motorists discovering new businesses while using roads they would not ordinarily drive. “That’s what our prediction was, and that has become a reality,” said Jordan Johnson, whose Peloton Commercial Real Estate has helped bring several businesses into the thriving West Seventh Street corridor.
Not only do motorists who are forced to use alternate routes patronize businesses along those side streets, but those customers could continue stopping by after construction ends in October or November. “That’s what we hope,” said Johnson, describing businesses along Currie and Foch streets as beneficiaries of the diverted traffic. Colonel’s Bicycles on Foch shared concerns with Johnson after the bridge construction plans were announced. Colonel’s relocated to Foch last year and wondered how construction would affect its bottom line.
“From the CDA’s point of view and as a real estate broker, for me, the only answer was we could not predict exactly what would happen,” said Johnson, a board member of the city’s Cultural District Alliance, a nonprofit agency promoting the Cultural District. Several detour signs have helped point motorists to alternate streets, a strategy that Johnson said has worked. While some mom-and-pop businesses and those lining side streets greet new customers, some established names have struggled. “We had forecast a decrease in sales volume, and sure enough, that has happened,” said Jim Parr, who owns the Subway sandwich shop in Montgomery Plaza.
“The good news is that the city has done a great job in keeping us up to date with schedules, so we knew what to expect,” Parr said. Businesses can expect the bridge to reopen before Thanksgiving. Sundt Construction Inc. of San Antonio is project contractor for the $25.9 million project. The Texas Department of Transportation designed the new bridge with six arch spans across the Trinity River to improve safety and pedestrian-bicycle access. The new bridge will replace the original structure that was built in 1913. More information is available at http://fortworthtexas.gov/seventhstreetbridge.