Businesses feeling isolated amid Riverside Ave. project

SPOKANE, Wash. — Construction on the Riverside Ave. project began back in June. Crews are revamping the popular road from Division St. to Wall St.

The project is bringing new water mains, bus stops, and designated bike lanes to what was a beaten-up stretch of road.

But in the process, it’s shut down access to many small businesses that have taken a hit since the project began.

“[Construction] has never been this bad,” said Jacob Miller, owner of ‘Crave’. “There’s nowhere to park, nowhere to see the place as you’re driving by.”

Miller has established ‘Crave’ as a staple in the downtown area. He still sees decent foot traffic, though his business has taken a considerable drop in profits.

“I’d say we’re 15 to 20 percent down from the time we’ve had the roads completely shut down. It’s hurting a little bit.”

Drivers in Spokane have grown frustrated with construction projects clogging up downtown. Many steer away to avoid the construction.

This, in turn, pushes more people away from the area these local businesses are rooted in.

“I wish there was a way that we could make up for the loss,” Miller said. “But we’re all working together as a neighborhood in here so we’re all hopefully going to make it.”

Others in the area have expressed their excitement with the project.

“I think it’s a great improvement to Spokane,” said Sandy Hobbs, operations manager of ‘Glendale’s Academy.’ “We’re looking forward to it.”

Hobbs spent three decades working in the construction industry. She’s in support of the renovations to come.

She too has had a front row seat to the noise and dust kicked up from her Riverside Ave. business location.

Despite the inconvenience, she says crews have been exceptional since arriving on site.

“They’ve kept us informed,” said Hobbs. “And as far as their work, they’re excellent. They clean when they’re done, they keep the area nice; it’s actually been a pleasure having them around.”

The Riverside project is currently in Phase Two of its three stages. Crews are currently working between Bernard St. and Stevens St.

They hope to be done with this stage by the end of September.

RELATED: Major construction projects, including Riverside Avenue, expected to end in November