Several downtown Halifax business owners and employees say construction of a new residential building is hurting them financially.
Lama Issa, a co-owner of Choco Café, located across the development near the intersection of Lower Water and Bishop Streets, said income has dropped 50 per cent.
“As an owner of a business, you would say, ‘What’s wrong? What am I doing wrong?’ After, like, four years of having the store, I should be going up, not going down, and it’s, all of a sudden, as if I’m starting from zero, so it’s really hard,” she said.
READ MORE: Small downtown business suffering due to Nova Centre construction
The Alexander is scheduled to be built in 2017. Located at 5121 Bishop Street, it’s set to reach 23 storeys high and have 242 units, according to a Halifax Open Data permit. The land was previously a parking lot.
Crews are currently excavating the site and work has been going on since at least last September.
“The noise is so bad in the morning,” said Issa. “We’re been really suffering since the construction has started.”
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The street traffic is particularly congested, there are fewer parking spots, and customers have stopped visiting the area because of the noise, she added.
“No one wants to come down here anymore because they’ve got to spend too much time trying to find a place to park. They say they love the food here, but they just can’t afford to waste all the time,” said Sarah Pittman, a server at Cheelin Restaurant in a building next to the site.
“I’ve been going from having maybe 10, 20 tables to having, like, two people come in during lunchtime, and it’s so sad.”
A man who owns a nearby dry cleaning shop said business has dropped by 60 per cent since the excavation began, and he’s decided to move the business to another community. He did not want his named used in this story.
“When construction happens, obviously people don’t want to be right next to it, and the worst part of the construction is happening right now,” said Waye Mason, councillor for Halifax South Downtown, who spoke about a near carbon copy of the same issue earlier in the year.
He said that, while parking will always be a challenge in the area, a report looking at the other big issues is currently being worked on my municipal staff.
The aim is to have a plan in place by the end of this coming summer to address dirt, visual, and pedestrian access issues that sprout from construction projects.
“We have to make the damage, the harm, as minimal as possible so those businesses can survive to experience the positive,” he said.
Despite the issues, Issa said she doesn’t plan to close Choco Café.
“We have to be patient, maybe. We have to be a little bit optimistic,” she said, noting that the future building will, ultimately, bring significantly more customers to her business.