The Community Redevelopment Agency promises Midtown neighbors and businesses that construction on Northwest 1st Avenue will end in October.
The $4 million More in Midtown project started in January and will renovate the 1600 to 1900 blocks between St. Augustine Church and Emerson Alumni Hall by moving utilities underground, creating additional car, scooter and bicycle parking and expanding sidewalks.
Sarit Sela, a project manager, said the area is a prime location in Gainesville that needed more structure, order and safety to make it an inviting area.
“We are trying to create a space that is not just to drive through, but a destination for people,” she said.
Recycling bins will replace some garbage containers along the street and consistent LED lighting will be placed along sidewalks for better visibility.
But unfinished construction has resulted in problems at some businesses along Northwest 1st and University Avenues.
Klajdi Kola, a UF economics senior who works at The Spot, a restaurant located at 16 NW 18th St., just steps away from where roads are closed for construction, said business has declined dramatically since roads and sidewalks leading to the restaurant became blocked in May.
“People can’t park,” the 22-year-old said. “They blocked the whole sidewalk so people who live (north of Northwest 1st Avenue) can’t come here.”
He said business has probably decreased by 25 to 30 percent and it is much less busy during the lunch rush.
“They said (construction) would be done for the start of school, but it’s not even close to being done,” Kola said.
Sela said there has been some traffic impacts because of the project but that these are minimal and temporary.
“We have been working very closely to make sure we have the signage and temporary parking,” she said. “I think we have developed a good system to minimize the problems.”
[FILE PHOTO] The Spot, 16 NW 18th Ave., is one of several Midtown businesses neighboring a construction zone. Renovations are expected to last through October.