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Hillsborough Street businesses say construction project is bad for sales

Posted February 9, 2010

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— Business owners along Hillsborough Street in Raleigh say a road construction project there is hurting their sales.

Last spring, construction began on the project to make Hillsborough Street more pedestrian- and traffic-friendly.

“The first week in May, when they put the barrels up, there was a drop in sales,” said Ric Culross, general manager of School Kids Records, 2114 Hillsborough St.

In the past year, Culross said, business has dropped 75 percent.

“We're trying very, very hard to keep our nose above the water line, but (at) each phase it seems to be worse and worse,” he said.

hillsborough street Local business owners say road construction hurts

Construction has cut into School Kids’ parking lot, and a new median keeps people from turning left into the lot, he said.

Red Hot and Blue, located at the corner of Hillsborough Street and Oberlin Road, recently shut its doors.

The Irregardless Café, at 901 W. Morgan St., is located around the corner from the construction, but it's not immune to the fallout.

“It’s having a huge impact. It’s making it very difficult to get to the restaurant,” said owner Arthur Gordon.

Business is down about 26 percent, Gordon said.

The construction will eventually make West Morgan a two-way street, which means more traffic toward his restaurant.

“We're suffering in the hopes that, once the street is finished, we'll be able to take a curse and turn it into a blessing,” he said.

Back on Hillsborough Street, business owners are less confident.

“When you change the thought that there is a problem with the street, it’s going to be hard to reach out and get those people to come back here,” Culross said.

The construction project is expected to be completed in September.

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  • Radio Wave Feb 15, 2010

    When I was a teenager, Hillsborough St overflowed with businesses and nightlife, mostly discos. That bothered a bunch of people for some reason so they felt they needed to "fix" it. And they did. They drove most of the businesses out. Of course disco went out of style, too, but most of the student-oriented businesses moved to Avent Ferry Road and the rest of the nightclubs and restaurants went to Glenwood South. They did the same thing to Five Points. That used to overflow with people every night, too. I don't how it is now. I haven't been there at night for so long.

  • Phrostbite Feb 10, 2010

    The businesses really are having a hard time. between the barbershop & pizza joint, I used to go over there once or twice a week, but now with navigating & parking so much worse than they already wear, I shave my own hair & do with out pizza. I havent' been hurt by the recession but saving on consumption is never bad.

  • jgimondo Feb 10, 2010

    Frazier's is closing after this weekend, but Urban Food Group, which also owns Porter's, Vivace, and Coquette is reopening it in the near future as a wine bar with all kinds of food. There's an article on NewRaleigh about it. I would blame that more on the type of restaurant Frazier's is (fancy), and the type of people that live around there (college kids).

    Red Hot and Blue is pretty terrible, and them closing has less to do with the construction and more to do with their own issues.

    I personally love driving down Hillsborough Street when I'm going downtown, because I'm always curious to see how it's progressing. It's also running 2 months ahead of schedule and may be finished as early as late June. Plus the major disruptions will be over by March or April. I really think people should try to stick it out a little longer.

  • rc4nc Feb 10, 2010

    The main reason I avoid the place, like the plague, are the red-light cameras. Not that I have the habit of running red lights, but I don't want to do anything to encourage the spread of such. Don't you all remember the main reason for the changes was to "make the area pedestrian friendly" my thought then was "it won't be long until the most important thing they should have done is make the area auto friendly" How's that new convention center, with no parking, going? That's another place I avoid like the plague.

  • CestLaVie Feb 10, 2010

    Hey lone voice: RH&B was not my fav restaurant as I'm vegetarian & their veggie offerings were few & far between. I went there with office birthday group get-togethers as the place was chosen by someone else. This seems to be one more example of the economy killing a business, or even a business killing itself. It's a tough location there even in good & normal times. I hear the utilities & spacing is antiquated so upgrades to run a business there have to be enormously expensive. I keep expecting that eventually the whole corner building will have to be torn down & redone.

  • steelcity36 Feb 10, 2010

    I feel sorry for these business owners, but this has been in the plans for over 10 years. Business owners are the ones who asked for the renovations to attract more customers and to add parking. One thing that bothers me is that they should work a block or two at a time. Seems like they are bouncing all over the place and not finishing where they started.

    I agree with Lone Voice in that the Players Retreat is maintaining a good customer base thanks to hard work by the owner Gus. Red Hot and Blue most have had other circumstances contribute to their demise. I heard they forced the original owner out and that is when their troubles began.

  • southraleigh Feb 10, 2010

    Interesting comment about the PR food. I would go to the PR for drinks after eating at RH&B because the food was so much better at RH&B. Honestly I'll probably end up at the V Draft House more often now.

    I've heard that Fraziers may be the next to go.

    Hillsborough has deeper problems than how pretty it's streetscape is. I think it has more to do with unbalanced commercial density, circulation routes that don't cross the street, and a residential neighborhood that doesn't support it.

    I'm sure that it's going to be more attractive in 5 years and that's great, but business volume will probably be about the same. The bottom line is you have to be able to pay your rent with what you can sell. What that street can sell is largely based on the University and the street improvements are not going to fundamentally change that market.

    On the plus side, it will definitely make the approach to downtown more attractive.

  • OSX Feb 10, 2010

    Recession and predatory towing. Two good reasons not to go downtown.

  • southraleigh Feb 10, 2010

    My wife and I used to eat at RH&B several times a month before the construction got so bad. I still went occasionally up to the end, but I do know my visits were cut down greatly by the construction and not the recession.

  • Lone Voice in the Wilderness Feb 10, 2010

    The Red Hot & Blue didn't close simply because of construction. Could it be that their food wasn't that good & people didn't want to go there? I mean, really. The Players Retreat is doing fine. If your restaurant is good, people will find you & support you. I hope the PR, Jasmin Bistro, and Fraziers all survive since their food is all good.

    The same thing happened when they re-worked Glenwood South. It is painful for the business that close, I realize that. But 5, 10 years down the road, Hillsborough Street will be a better place. NC State is the largest campus in the UNC System, and all they have to show for it is Western Blvd & Hillsborough Street?

    I live in Cameron Village, and I have to deal with Hillsborough Street on a regular basis. I am now liking the roundabouts, and I can't wait for Morgan to be 2-way up to Hillsborough Street.

    A little pain now will make the future better. Failing to realize & accept this fact is what keeps the status quo around.

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