SLC construction project sees major delay; local business says it’s costing them customers

Jul 13, 2022, 10:09 PM | Updated: Jul 14, 2022, 6:57 am

SALT LAKE CITY — A Salt Lake City business is saying a major construction project in town has led to a huge drop in business, and now they’re finding out the project is going to take much longer than originally planned.

Construction drums and cones line much of 300 West between 900 South and 2100 South, as crews replace the aging road, utilities and sidewalk.

On the east side of 300 West, south of Paxton Avenue, drivers navigate a crunched-up traffic pattern past a building with a deep red garage door and a large, white logo for Hello! Bulk Markets.

The west side of the road is completely torn up.

Inside Hello! Bulk Markets, customers can buy food, body care and household cleaning products by weight. They bring their own containers to store what they buy.

Jamaica Trinnaman founded the business with an aim to cut down on waste and focus on environmental impact.

But what’s happening outside her front door has her dealing with a different kind of impact that she said has cut down on business. Normally, customers can park on 300 West and enter her business through the front door next to the huge garage door.

“I came in one day, and just saw that my parking out front had cones and no parking,” Trinnaman explained. That was last spring. Trinnaman, who moved her business into the space several months ago, indicated that she didn’t realize construction was starting up again, after originally kicking off last summer.

Instead of using the front door, Trinnaman described how customers have to drive into a back alleyway and use the back door. She shares a couple of parking spaces with the business next door.

She added that because half of 300 West is torn up, traffic backs up for blocks at a time.

Rather than navigate the mess, she found customers just aren’t coming in at all. Trinnaman said business dropped 30% the week construction started, and she said that drop has continued as time — and construction — have gone on.

“It’s just no surprise that it deters people, that they have to be creative about how to get here,” she said. “It’s like a puzzle to get to some parts of the west side right now.”

Construction was originally estimated to finish this fall, but on Wednesday the city said delays have forced them to push that timeline back much further.

“As a result of some delays that have happened, ranging from cement shortages to staffing, and material shortages that has now been pushed into 2023 construction season,” said Mark Stephens, acting engineer for Salt Lake City.

He said that Salt Lake City Engineering has worked to have an active public engagement effort, which includes outreach to businesses, citizens and commuters to keep them aware of the work going on.

They want businesses to know the city supports them, he said, with a commitment to make sure businesses stay successful.

Stephens laid out how Salt Lake City is offering up help in a couple of different ways, from putting up signage and adjusting traffic control, to making Construction Mitigation Grants available through the Economic Development Department.

Will Wright, project manager with Salt Lake City Economic Development said the city doubled the funds for the grant, from $100,000 for the 2021-2022 fiscal year to $200,000 for the 2022-2023 fiscal year.

Last year, he said 36 businesses applied for and received the $2,000 grants.

This year, he said the individual grant funds increased from $2,000 to $3,000. Each business can apply each year they’re affected, he added. Meaning anyone who applied for and received funds in the 2021-2022 year can apply and receive those funds again, provided construction is still going on.

The grants are not meant as a revenue replacement, he said, but as a way to help businesses enhance marketing or signage, or come up with a campaign to help drive in foot traffic.

He said that their office can also help businesses look at other grant programs and federal funding.

Stephens explained the project will make 300 West even better than it was before in terms of access to businesses, making it easier for pedestrians and bicycles to navigate, and providing ADA access.

But Stephens acknowledged that getting there doesn’t come without impacts on businesses, customers and commuters.

“These are things that are the reality of construction, but we do everything that we can to mitigate that the best that we can,” he said. “We will work with them. We will see what we can do.”

Trinnaman did apply for and received one of the $2,000 grants, which she said she was grateful for — but it was only a drop in the bucket when it came to loss of revenue.

“That helped us recover some of the loss of our first week,” she said. “And this is months into what will be over a yearlong project.”

She’s hoping for some other kind of help and suggested the city offer some kind of rent relief or rental support to businesses.

Trinnaman said she’ll continue to problem solve as she navigates a major detour around the roadblock her business is facing.

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SLC construction project sees major delay; local business says it’s costing them customers