Some downtown businesses lose profits due to construction site collapse on Canal Street

Businesses along Canal St. deal with impact of Hard Rock collapse

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Some businesses up and down Canal Street say they are impacted by what happened at the Hard Rock Hotel construction site.

Kenny Rubenstein is part of his family’s business, Rubenstein’s, an iconic clothier located at Canal Street and St. Charles Avenue.

"The hardest part has been the fact that people have been told, basically, don’t come downtown, so local business is dried up for a week now,” said Rubenstein, general manager of the store.

Some traffic patterns remain impacted following the October 12 collapse of part of the hotel construction site at Canal and Rampart streets.

Kurt Weigle, President and CEO of the Downtown Development District has heard from businesses feeling the impact of street closures and other effects of the tattered construction site.

“Based on the DDD’s conversation with our stakeholders along Canal Street, there’s been impact all along Canal Street,” said Weigle. ”People have reported lower sales rates and so forth, obviously, we want to address that to the best of ability and so we’re just trying to get the word out that downtown, Canal Street, is open for business except for this small area."

Towering unstable cranes at the construction site were imploded on Sunday. Eventually, Mayor Latoya Cantrell wants the entire construction site demolished.

Downtown businesses are hoping for more normalcy sooner than later, given the approaching holiday season.

"This is our big run up here, October, November, December and then of course, God forbid it goes into January, bowl championships and Sugar Bowl, I can't even imagine. The city's got to be worried about that,” Rubenstein stated.

In recent years, there has been a lot of new development taking place in the downtown area. Rubenstein said some of it has also impacted parking and traffic.

"You've got hotels and all sorts of buildings being constructed and they block off half lanes, so we already have that problem, now this just adds more and when customers don't want to go through the trouble of getting down here…that'll hurt business,” he said.

But despite what happened at the Hard Rock Hotel construction site, Weigle does not think that will have a long-term impact on economic development downtown.

"We’ve got over a half billion of new projects under construction right now downtown, that has not changed. We still have strong demand for residential and retail and hospitality, so the fundamentals have not changed,” said Weigle. “We just have to find a way to push through this trauma to help the businesses who are impacted most by this to continue to stay on their feet.”

And Weigle does not expect what happened at the hotel site to slow city approval of future major projects downtown.

"I don’t anticipate that, that’s going to be the case…I think we’re going to bounce back,” he said.

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