May 20, 2012 8:10 PM

Streetcar affects UA businesses

TUCSON - Businesses near the University of Arizona are seeing a decrease in customers. It's not only because students are home for summer, the Modern Streetcar Project has made its way to the area. Some businesses are actually doing better than expected.

Customers heading to Main Gate Square can't park along University east of Euclid while construction is going on. Only foot traffic can access the area.

"I had to take a detour because congress is closed," says Ashley Salmon, a UA student. "We actually were going to go to the cereal box and then come here, but we were told the cereal box was closed for summer because of this construction so that's a little bit frustrating."

"When they were ripping up the asphalt and everything you had to go all the way around the whole thing and people were, you could hear them griping as they walked back over here,'" says Ian Ballard, VIP Parking.

"People make comments like, 'Whoa! What are they doing here,'" says Ariel Moeser, a server at Frog & Firkin.

Frog and Firkin is one of the many businesses fenced in by the project. Moeser went to one of the streetcar meetings because she was afraid it would affect business.

"I was really worried because all of the other employees around here from the businesses were really stressed out about it."

The fact that this restaurant has its own parking could be one reason for its continued success. Many places, like Tyndall garage, are offering discounted parking to try to keep people coming back.

VIP Parking is doing much better than expected. More people are forced to valet, without metered parking on University.

"I don't think we were this busy last summer. It hasn't been a huge increase, maybe 5 to 15 percent," says Ballard.

While these businesses are doing better, not all of them are as lucky.

"A lot of these stores might close down because people can't get through here," says Salmon.

"It's kind of sad. I know a lot of people were sad to see la salsa go," says Ballard.

Only time will tell if construction will have a huge affect on this university hot spot.

"I don't know if students are still here, but we've still been really busy," says Moeser.

The city's parking program, ParkWise, is offering discounted parking rates at downtown garages to encourage visitors and shoppers to go to the area during major construction related to the modern streetcar.

For Main Gate Square customers, parking is validated after 5 p.m. at the Tyndall Parking Garage, accessible from East Fourth Street off of North Euclid Avenue.

There's a "construction special" flat rate at the new Centro Garage, 345 E. Congress St., which is within walking distance of businesses along Congress and North Fourth Avenue. Parking is $3 a day Sunday through Wednesday. It's $5 after 5 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.


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