Downtown businesses growing frustrated by construction

Local News

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — July marks the start of the 15 months of construction on Broughton Street for the Streetscapes project. Some business owners are growing frustrated with the impact the project is having on their bottom line.

The Salt Table has called Broughton Street home for the last 10 years. But, last week owner David Legasse moved the store around the block to avoid the construction.

“Certainly dust and noise and just construction literally right to the door and that intimidates people and had an impact,” Legasse said.

Business started to bounce back for The Salt Table following the pandemic but reversed course once construction reached the Jefferson and Whitaker Street block. In the month spent in the construction zone, The Salt Table saw about a 50% decrease in sales, according to Legasse.

“You still have to pay your rent, you still have to pay your employees, everything stays the same except your sales go way down,” Legasse said. “After COVID, that’s difficult.”

Legasse is one of many store owners impacted by the construction. The Ordinary Pub posted on Facebook that its water was shut off shortly before brunch last Saturday.

“The lack of communication throughout this project has been embarrassing,” the post reads. “This is after we had to shut down to replace equipment that took on lots of sand the last time they shut us down by breaking a water main they didn’t know was there. This company is supposed to make contact everyday with us per the city.”

Susan Broker, Director of Special Events, Film and Tourism with the City of Savannah, confirmed the incident at The Ordinary Pub. Crews have been replacing water mains during construction which causes water cutoffs, Broker said.

“What occurred on Saturday is absolutely unacceptable from the city’s perspective,” Broker said. “We have placed a great deal of responsibility on the contractor, they own the street essentially while they’re doing the construction and it is critical that they do a better job.”

The city meets with Broughton Street businesses every two weeks to provide updates on the project, according to Broker. Following the incident at The Ordinary Pub, Broker said businesses can expect better communication from the contractor.

“This is a very complicated Streetscape project in our most popular shopping area,” Broker said. “The thing that we want to convey most to our public and our community is that Broughton Street is open for business, that these businesses are accessible.”

Legasse said the interruptions from construction are inevitable but he hopes shoppers will look past the mess to support businesses.

“A lot of them are small, a lot of them have invested their own money, they’re not part of a chain. They’re just local businesses trying to make a living and employ people,” Legasse said.

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