Tonya Papanikolas Reporting
It's been over a month since UTA began construction on the new TRAX expansion downtown. Before construction began many store owners said they were worried about business. So we went back to see how the stores are doing.
We talked to quite a few stores. Half of them said they're doing OK; half said the construction has definitely hurt them. All the businesses we talked to said they would definitely benefit from new TRAX stops in the end if they can make it through the next year and a half.
Getting into the Gateway is a little harder these days, with TRAX construction along 400 West. But most store owners there say the orange barrels haven't really hurt business.
Susan Shrum, Fleming's Steakhouse: "We are up $30,000 last month, so we are doing great."
Some other businesses along 200 South are struggling more. The Patrick Moore Art Gallery, which features the work of many local artists, says construction has made a big difference in sales.
Patrick Hoagland, Patrick Moore Gallery owner: "My walk-in traffic has declined tremendously. This is just a time where we have to wait it out and see what happens."
The Hong Kong Tea House, which has won Salt Lake magazine's Best Chinese Restaurant three years in a row, says business has been at only 40 percent since construction began.
Jennifer Yeung, Hong Kong Tea House: "It has been hurting. Problems in parking especially, because we don't have parking for customers."
All the businesses say parking is their biggest problem; along 200 South cars can no longer park on the south side of the street.
Holly Davis, Mechanized assistant manager: "The parking is outrageous. It's really hard for us to actually find it."
Justin Jones, UTA spokesman: "We're working with them to make sure they have access, that their customers know that their business is open."
All along the road, UTA has put up signs saying businesses are open during construction. But stores say the customers don't always see them. UTA has also added a temporary parking lot in the area along 600 West. But it's not paved, and for some customers it can be somewhat far to walk.
Jennifer Yeung, Hong Kong Tea House: "We have our regular customer that will park far away; they don't mind. But I don't know how long they can take that."
UTA says it learned a lot from the Main Street TRAX expansion. Since then, UTA officials have interacted a lot more with the local businesses, inviting them to monthly meetings so store owners can give suggestions on how to make things easier for them.