High Point small businesses worried about Main Street closure

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HIGH POINT, N.C. -- A section of North Main Street in High Point will be closed in both directions for about six months starting in November.

The city is doing a major construction project that will replace hundred-year-old water lines, move utilities underground and repair sidewalks.

The project was originally slated to take 12-18 months and one lane would remain open during the construction, but in an effort not to disrupt the fall and spring furniture markets, both sides of the road will be closed.

The city will save six to eight months of construction time and about $250,000.

Small businesses in the area say they are worried the total road closure could hurt them beyond repair.

Tim Fogarty owns Smith and Whitely Music in the affected area.

"It really is a labor of love that we do this, none of us are getting rich being the owners of a small music store," he said.

The city has promised some kind of access to the businesses in the area during construction. Fogarty says he knows his regulars will still stop by, but it's the drive-by traffic that will hurt him, especially during the holiday shopping season.

"The main concern is that people will just bypass this area completely and instead of coming into our parking lot, what they'll do is just go around and they won't see our store and they won't know that we're here," he said.

"We probably do 30-40 percent of our business between November and December -- it helps us our for the rest of the year, that's a really bad time to slow us down," Fogarty added.

Keith Pugh, director of engineering services for the city, says the city council asked staff to try and shorten the project and get it within the budget. He also said the full closure makes it easier on crews.

"It makes for a much safer work environment not only for the motoring public trying to drive through an active work zone but also for the people working in that work zone," Pugh said.

Fogarty and other business owners gathered at a meeting held by the city to discuss how the closure would impact them and how the city could mitigate any business loss.

Patrick Chapin, president and CEO of the chamber of commerce said he knows it's a sacrifice for the business owners, but says the shorter closure will actually hurt them less in the long run. He and others are now trying to make up for any potential loss with a new, professional marking plan.

"We're going to commit a pretty sizeable amount of dollars which we hope we can leverage into $30,000-$40,000 worth of marketing exposure to help drive businesses," Chapin said.

Fogarty says he just hopes it works, because right now a lot is at stake.

"If music doesn't stay alive in the communities I think communities become a sadder place."

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