‘Business has been awful’: Business owners frustrated with major delays in Broughton Streetscapes Project

Local News

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – After eight months of construction, the Broughton Streetscapes Project is facing more delays. City officials are putting the blame on unexpected work.

Business owners on Broughton Street between Jefferson Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard say they’re fed up with how long this project is taking.

“Business has been awful,” Pounce Cat Café owner Ashley Brooks said.

In the middle of the pandemic this is the last thing businesses need. The Broughton Streetscapes Project that started back in April is hitting another roadblock after weather and underground utility issues. Business owners News 3 spoke with Tuesday say they’re over it.

“I’m just disappointed. I mean I’ve dealt with the city of Savannah when I had to open the business and they call it ‘slowvannah’ for a reason. I was expecting the delays to be pushed back by a little bit, but I mean we were supposed to be done in June,” Brooks said.

Brooks said her business has lost almost $100,000 due to traffic in this area slowing down.

“Compared to last year our sales are down 60 or 70 percent so it’s just been really really hard,” Brooks said.

She along with other business owners is asking for the city to answer some questions before these Broughton Street businesses miss out on seeing holiday shoppers.

News 3 spoke with Margaret Stanley who is the owner of Midge in Downtown Savannah. She said she’s been very vocal throughout this process and wants to see the city do something about this problem.

“It’s run really late, they’re giving excuses that it rained last week but this isn’t behind because of three days of rain, this is six months behind,” Stanley said. “There’s a bunch of crews out here now but during the summer when this started there were a couple of people out there for a few hours or nobody out there a lot of days and that’s really where the delays run so behind.”

Stanley said she hears nonstop from customers how inconvenient this is. She said the city keeps providing dates that keep getting pushed back. Stanley is among the business owners that has seen a significant loss in revenue.

“I’m stressed. I was less stressed during COVID. I was managing it to make it through the pandemic and everything else because I don’t know when it’s really going to be done,” Stanley said.

Assistant City Manager Heath Lloyd is the leader on this project. He told News 3 it has been pushed back at least four times. He said he doesn’t take this situation lightly and knows the frustration business owners have.

“I’m equally as frustrated,” Lloyd said.

According to Lloyd, the city has been keeping in contact with business owners during this time via Zoom. Lloyd also oversees economic development within the city of Savannah so he wants to see the city’s businesses continue to thrive.

He said the contractor could be to blame too. The city has had several conversations about their lack of urgency to get this portion of Broughton Street done.

“We intend to make drastic improvements as to how this project is going and it is going to be a very candid discussion with our contractor about such a high profile project,” Lloyd said.

It’s still too early to determine whether or not the city could bring in another contractor, but what Lloyd does know is more concrete won’t be dug up until this problem is fixed.

“I don’t want to see closed doors along Broughton Street. That is not why the city of Savannah invested in this project,” Lloyd said.

This portion of the project is expected to be completed by Nov. 25. There’s still no date set on the full project.

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