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CHARLOTTE STREET BUSINESSES ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO FUTURE, DESPITE SOME CHALLENGES

THE DOWNTOWN CORE HAS BEEN UNDER CONSTRUCTION SINCE SPRING OF 2022

Charlotte Street in Sydney has been being overhauled for more than a year and a half now, and while the nine-million-dollar project is exciting and aimed at sustaining businesses in the long run, some business owners downtown have had trouble bringing customers into their establishments.

 

Since the spring of 2022, the CBRM has had sections of Charlotte Street gated to make the downtown core more accessible and pedestrian-friendly in the future.

 

The second phase of the three-phase project is about to wrap up, with the work of the final phase expected to be finished by the time the new NSCC campus in downtown Sydney opens in 2024.

 

The project, which will see Charlotte Street having wider sidewalks, streetscaping, landscaping, new stormwater infrastructure, solar lighting, and an electric vehicle charging station is more than halfway done.

 

 Business owners who have been affected by the loss of parking spaces and foot traffic during some of their busiest times of the year said they're happy the work is happening, but it has cost establishments money since the redesign of the street started.

 

"The pain is over, but our sales have decreased by half during the eight months of construction," said Justin Ayre, the owner of Alexandra's Pizza on Charlotte Street, which was part of phase one, in 2022.

 

Ayre said looking back, he would have liked to have known about the construction sooner than he did, especially after the pandemic.

 

"It was all hard to grasp coming out of COVID with dining rooms being shut down for so long. We lost a ton of business," said Ayre.

 

"We were given short notice. We didn't know exactly what was going on. It affected business and we didn't feel we were given time to prepare for it. Had we been given more time to prepare we probably could have brainstormed a little bit on how to get through it,” he said.

 

Although phase one was delayed because of Hurricane Fiona in September of last year, there are those who are optimistic about the work that's been done so far.

 

"There have been a lot of things happening downtown, and the last couple of years have been really exciting. We saw the announcement for the second cruise ship berth and the new NSCC campus and they all started happening. I think they are wins that the community had to see despite some hurdles in making these things a reality," said Michelle Wilson, the executive director of the Sydney Downtown Development Association.

 

“I think a lot of people realized there might be some challenges, but the majority of people saw the long-term vision and we’ve had businesses open during the construction, in the construction blocks, which is exciting, and you are sort of on pins and needles hoping everyone gets through unscathed. We have all been learning. None of us have been through something like this before, but there are a lot of things that are cause for optimism,” said Wilson.

 

“We have so many new faces on the street. We have young entrepreneurs who are having babies and who are raising families and it’s really exciting,” she said.

 

Since the announcement of a new NSCC campus in downtown Sydney, along with growth of the population in the CBRM in the past few years, new businesses have been opening, despite the pandemic and inconveniences caused by the plans to make Charlotte Street accessible to locals, newcomers and tourists alike.

 

“I am a graduate from CBU and I realized there are not much South Indian Restaurants here for a number of students from Southern India who are living here, so my wife and I thought we’d start a business to help students who miss a taste from home,” said Ashish Joy, owner of Anagha’s Kitchen on Charlotte street.

 

Since they opened on April 17th of 2022, Joy has found that the restaurant has loyal customers from the beginning.

 

“In the summer of 2022, the work definitely affected business, not as much as we thought, because we are a typical South Indian restaurant, so students or people from our part of the world, they come here, even if there are road blocks, they don’t seem to mind, but still, yes, because of most of the road was drawn out, there were challenges, but they weren’t major for us,” said Joy, who is looking forward to the future.

 

“The street is now so beautiful, so expect more foot traffic next summer and we think more people will be coming here,” he said.

 

Alexandra’s Pizza has had their own upgrades recently, expecting more people who are able to easily walk in, or park in front of the pizza shop now that the construction is done in front of their building and the holiday season is coming soon.

 

“Now we’re doing really well. We just reopened on Friday. We are starting to come back, and we look forward to a positive future here. Christmas is always a busy time for us, and I expect this year is going to be much busier because I imagine traffic flow is going to increase now around here that the second phase will be over soon. It’s going to be a really busy December,” said Ayre.

 

He hopes the businesses of Charlotte Street who have been impacted by phase two of construction also are able to bounce back like Alexandra’s Pizza has done in recent months.

 

“I feel for the people down the road, who have to deal with what we had to last year,” said Ayre, who added that he and his costumers and others in downtown Sydney will benefit from all of the work that has been so far.

 

“It’s beautiful. It all looks better than it did, and I’m sure once phase two is completed things will get more organized,” said Ayre.

 

It’s expected the last phase of the nine-million-dollar undertaking will be finished before the September of 2024.

 



 

 Downtown Sydney has been under construction at the cost of nine million dollars.

 

 

 

 

 

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