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South Cape streetscaping project under way

Merchants begin to cope with improvement plan

February 8, 2018
Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

The $13 million Southeast 47th Terrace streetscape project has just gotten into full swing, and area businesses are beginning to feel the effects.

The project, which got started last month, swings into high gear this week as the first portion of Southeast 47th Terrace on the corner of Coronado, near the 600 and 700 blocks, is being worked on.

Area merchants are reporting that things are going OK. Even if they have to access their shops through alleyways and have to deal with a road already torn up, they believe the streetscape will benefit them in the long run.

"Originally, there was panic that construction was going to hurt businesses bad. The city has done a good job since then to work with the merchants to make sure they have access," said Elmer Tabor, who owns Big John's Plaza. "The city is going overboard in working with the merchants to make sure they don't get killed in the process. That's a good thing."

At Family Hardware, once the barricades were moved out of the way, business has been pretty much what it has always been.

"They closed off both ends of the street and had to come in through the alley. Once the barricades were opened up and people could get by, business was fine," said J.R. Atchison an employee at Family Hardware.

Others say not all has been well.

At the Kiwanis Thrift Store at 708 S.E. 47th Terrace, Ann Vaughn said business has slowed to a crawl.

"People think the street is closed. We may have to put signs up saying we're open if you can find out how the hell you get in here," Vaughn said. "At 10:30 a.m., we had done only $22 in business. Normally, it would be about $300 to $400."

The project is expected to be finished by the end of the year. The project will extend from Coronado Parkway to Southeast 15th Street, just a few hundred feet from Del Prado Boulevard.

Once completed, the streetscape will make 47th more pedestrian friendly, with the width of the street greatly reduced to slow cars down and promote travel by foot.

There will be wide, multi-use paths on both sides of the roadway as well as new landscaping features, such as smaller trees to replace the larger ones that have pulled up the sidewalks.

The area's infrastructure, from sewer to stormwater, will also be replaced.

There will be three valet stations and a "nickel ride" service, with additional parking at Big John's and Club Square that is intended to make up for the loss of on-street parking, all of which will be removed.

Atchison said he believes the streetscape will benefit business in the long term. The thing many people have an issue with is the roundabout on Vincennes.

"It will be chaos before then like all projects, but I think the road needs it," Atchison said. "I'm not much on the roundabout, but people don't understand them. They have a hard time with a stop sign."

Yvonne McClellan, a spokesperson for the project who is handling the communications effort, said they have been working with businesses so they can understand when and where the next phases of construction will be to minimize any negative impact.

"Our project team is dedicated to being proactive in coordinating with businesses to understand their needs and work with them to minimize the impact of construction as much as possible," McClellan said.

McClellan added that the construction will take an easterly trek, block-by-block, to further minimize issues.

"We opted for a block-by-block progression of construction in an effort to minimize the impact to businesses so that the majority of Southeast 47th Terrace will remain open to the public for the duration of construction," McClellan said.

 
 

 

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