Construction having negative impact on York Street businesses in Savannah

Construction having negative impact on York Street businesses in Savannah

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Five small businesses are trying to stay afloat on York Street in Savannah.

They say a major federal project is bulldozing right through their profits. One federal building is being torn down, which is causing certain roads to close.

Foot traffic is low on York Street these days. Businesses owners say they’ve lost close to 50 percent of revenue over the last eight weeks, and who’s to blame? Owners are pointing the finger at the demolition.

“It’s like a dead zone right now,” said Mark Rojas, The Olfactory Company Owner.

The federal government is tearing down the old courthouse annex to build a brand new one to accommodate for more space. Local business owners say they are facing the brunt of the project.

“Literally, two hours can go by and we don’t have a person walk through the door," said Gary Hall, Wright Square Cafe Owner.

Right now, York Street is closed from Barnard Street to Whitaker Street as the old building is demolished. The city has placed signs out to help move traffic to their street, but owners are getting their hands dirty, too.

“We actually started just going and putting sidewalk chalk everywhere, trying to direct people this way. listing all of the shops that are around here to get people coming so they know we’re here," said Ian Carlisle, Carlisle of York Co-owner.

Without tour company buses or carriage tours driving their usual route down York Street, owners say its been quiet for the last eight weeks. This is usually the highlight of their peak season.

“My lunch business is pretty good. It is where it should be. It’s the afternoon business. They don’t see us in the morning and they don’t come back wandering as they passed by," Hall said.

“Luckily, we have our locals to thank for supporting us and keeping us going, but really, we are just not getting the tourists," Carlisle said.

Some businesses have seen a day come and go without a single sale. Owners say it’s crushing.

“We are just a mom and pop shop, so we are here seven days a week. We don’t have a lot of employees working for us. It’s just us. We do what we have to do to get our rent paid and everything else," Rojas said.

The City of Savannah says it will likely stay that way until the two-year building process is finished. Owners are trying to advocate with bus companies and carriage tours to alter their new routes to include their businesses.

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