Multiple businesses in Campus West have struggled due to construction on the underpass being built at the intersections of Elizabeth and Shields Streets. Though the intersection reopened Tuesday morning, some businesses are still unsure that they can survive until August, when the construction is slated to end.
In a Collegian article several weeks ago, owners of the Village Vidiot and Momo Lolo expressed their concerns about the effect of the construction on their businesses.
The Village Vidiot put out a donation jar to help themselves stay afloat, and the owner of Momo Lolo said that he had to take other jobs to keep the shop from closing.
Scott Shepperd, the owner of the Village Vidiot, said that he was not happy about the University pushing this forward and believes that the city has put the University’s interests ahead of the people who live in Fort Collins.
“CSU is now leading everybody by the nose; they’re getting whatever they want,” Shepperd said.
Jill Marx, the public relations coordinator for Fort Collins, said that she sympathized with the businesses, and that she hopes they can stay in business.
“I feel badly for those businesses; I totally get it,” Marx said. “I live over there, so I can understand that they are sick of the construction.”
“I hope that they can survive the construction, because I think the end product will be better for everyone,” she continued.
Marx added that this kind of construction always has an effect on the businesses in the area.
“Anytime there’s construction, that’s always a concern for us,” she said. “Anytime we improve an intersection, we do work with the businesses and try to keep them updated on the progress of the projects.”
However, Marx said that the construction was badly needed, based on where Fort Collins is going as a city, and the growth that it is seeing.
“At some point, you have to update the infrastructure,” Marx said. “Fort Collins is growing, and we have to accommodate the higher traffic volume and the higher bicycle traffic volume. The intersections all over town are getting improved upon because we have to do it to keep up with the growth of the city.”
Campus planner Fred Haberecht said that the University is concerned about the businesses, but that they also warned businesses that it was coming, and the project has been in the works since 2001.
“Before the project even started, there were two open houses, there was individual outreach for each of the businesses, and there were modifications to the plans to address both short term and long term impacts,” Haberecht said. “We’ve been very rigorous in making accommodations to (the businesses) and also keeping to the schedule as promised.”
Haberecht also said that the construction workers on the site are making a conscious effort to go to the businesses in the lot, such as Subway, to help them as they see a bruise in business.
Construction of the Elizabeth underpass will continue through August, though the intersection is now open. Shields Street is expected to be open in time for May graduation.
Collegian reporter Stuart Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @notstuartsmith