Atlanta Streetcar Inc. hosted a Streetcar Social Thursday night in downtown Atlanta to brief business owners in the area and the general public on the project’s future.
The streetcar, initially slated to open late this year, has been pushed back multiple times and is now set to open in the spring of 2014, at least six months after its original open date. Business owners along the construction route say the project is adversely affecting their establishments and the socials, held at a new business every month, are aimed at encouraging patrons to support those businesses and updating the community.
Construction of the streetcar route began about a year ago with the goal of making travel through downtown and tourist destinations in Atlanta more convenient, especially those on MARTA. However, those running businesses in the area say that the construction is creating an obstacle that turns customers away.
“[Business has] slowed down, very much so,” said Carrington McCaskill, owner of Capitol Tattoos on Edgewood Ave. “The sidewalk that we had most of our walk-in and foot traffic was kind of stopped because [the road] was so messed up.”
With the majority of the construction happening in the middle of the street, many detours and reroutes have had to be implemented to make getting up and down the roads possible. A number of curbsides and sidewalks have also been barricaded, along with large sections of the street.
“Because of the driving situation, a lot of the customers can’t park; a lot don’t want to deal with the construction hassle,” said Frank Harvey, a store clerk at A&B Variety. “It has deterred customers.”
Harvey also lives in the neighborhood but has not experienced any trouble getting around, himself.
Some area residents don’t seem to mind the construction, though, and say the new transportation module will be beneficial once it is completed.
“It’s noisy sometimes, but I think the streetcars will help,” said Charles Whims, a resident of Auburn Ave. “I’m on MARTA so it would make it easier to get around to the stations.”
According to Atlanta Streetcar Inc., the route will begin in downtown Atlanta, travel up Auburn Ave. and down Edgewood Ave. back into downtown. Construction for the project has been a bit of a nuisance, but business owners are hopeful that the investment will pay off with more customer traffic once the cars get on the tracks.
“Business will most definitely improve,” said McCaskill. “We are going to get noticed a lot because we are the only tattoo shop on this block. Another thing is one of the stops is about two doors down from us. You have no choice but to see us.”
The social is scheduled to take place from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Bistro at Courtyard by Marriot in downtown Atlanta. The event is open to the public, and representatives from Atlanta Streetcar will be present to discuss general and new information about the project.
Mangoes on Auburn Ave and Harold’s Chicken on Edgewood are among the many places the event has been hosted.