Uptown business owners say they'll take major hit due to construction project

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Some Uptown businesses say they're going to take a major hit because of an upcoming construction project that will temporarily shut down their block of Magazine Street.

Business owner Deborah Schumacher doesn't mince words when talking about the project.

"It will be horrendous," she said. "It will stop the traffic coming through here, people won't be able to come park on Magazine Street because as they come down this street, they won't have anywhere to turn around. There's already no parking on Louisiana (Avenue). It's detrimental to our business community which means it costs the city money," said Slim Goodies owner Deborah Schumacher.

Starting Tuesday through Jan. 31, The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will close Magazine Street at Louisiana Avenue for roadway reconstruction related to the ongoing Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project, commonly referred to as the SELA Project.

"It is truly going to be impactful, and it's not just us," said Dat Dog Enterprises President and Chief Operating Officer Bill DiPaola. "It's one thing to worry about the business owners - that's absolutely true and I'm very concerned about that - but I've got a lot of employees that are counting on the everyday here, and to have them negatively affected that way with little or no notice, that's a tough thing to take - especially at a time when we expect to be very busy."

A nearby resident we spoke with is also unhappy.

"I'm a cancer patient, and so sometimes I don't have a lot of energy," said Sarina Allen. "I park right now on the corner, and sometimes that's nothing, but sometimes it's everything, and you want to be able to have curbside access to the places you're going. How are you going to have curbside access if you have to walk from yonder to where you want to go. What are they going to do? They're going to make a choice to go somewhere else, that's what they're going to do."

The Corps says Magazine Street will be closed on the downtown side of Louisiana Avenue. During that time, traffic traveling west toward Uptown on Magazine will be detoured at Toledano Street. Traffic traveling east or toward downtown will be able to access Louisiana.

We spoke to the Corps, and they had to this to say about business owners' concerns.

"We know that there are potential impacts, and we do try and work around it the best as we can, provided that we are able to continue moving forward with the project as we need to. We need to stay on schedule so we can get out of everyone's way as soon as possible," said Corps spokesman Ricky Boyett.

The Corps says Magazine will still be open to foot traffic, but business owners are doubtful people will be willing to make the walk.

"People, they're not going to walk that far to try and get to a business if they can go to another business down the street," said DiPaola.

"They come to you seven days before it happens and tell you, 'By the way, we're shutting down the intersection.' It shouldn't be that way," said Schumacher.

Boyett says when scheduling the construction, they tried to prevent an impact on the holiday shopping season as well as the Carnival season. The Corps admits they didn't give business owners much notice. They say they got the word out as soon as they could last week after getting confirmation of scheduling from the city.

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