Neal Rubin of The Detroit News went out to two major street projects in Detroit -- rebuilding of the Avenue of Fashion stretch of Livernois to make it more pedestrian-friendly, and a similar project on Bagley in Mexicantown -- and found two very different impacts.
The Bagley project will make the two blocks between 24th Street and the I-75 service drive "more festive" and is being borne by the local businesses with a certain equanimity. Livernois, on the other hand, is far bigger, with more delays. Those shopkeepers and restaurant owners are hanging on by their fingernails as a result:
The $17 million (Livernois) redesign stumbled from the start, delayed by 24 rainy days in May. Road repairs turned out to be more extensive than expected, parking disappeared and pedestrians sometimes had to walk for blocks to find a place to dash across the street.
The area's leading success story, Kuzzo's Chicken & Waffles, gave up in frustration in July, closing a month ahead of a planned kitchen renovation and announcing a hiatus until November. Another restaurant, Good Times, scratched its June debut and only recently opened Fridays through Sundays.
A September sidewalk-sale event "didn't really pan out" because no one could find parking.
On Bagley, things went differently:
Businesses were able to weigh in on when to start construction — or more important, when not to.
At the first meeting, "We say, 'No May. No,'" recalled Raquel Lozano of El Popo Market, halfway between 24th and 23rd streets.
With the school year ending in June, May is a field trip month, they explained. Cinco de Mayo, the cumin-and-cayenne St. Patrick's Day, fills the restaurants.
The paving of the roadway on Livernois, which will include a new center left-turn lane and street parking, will be completed this November, as will 80 percent of the sidewalk work, the city says. The complete project is scheduled for completion in June 2020 after the contractor finishes the last 20 percent of the sidewalks and other details like landscaping, benches and new lighting.
The city notes that the Bagley project is two blocks long and 50 feet wide, so it naturally will be completed quicker than the Livernois project, which is 1.2 miles and about 120 feet wide.
"A project of this nature typically would go two full years, but the businesses voted for the type of design and to have the city accelerate the project to get it done primarily in one year," the mayor's office said of the Livernois project.