Streetscape delays affect local businesses in different ways

Streetscape delays affect local businesses in different ways
(Source: MGN Online)
(Source: MGN Online)

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - After being hit by multiple storms, Sha Sha's of Creole moved to the downtown district in Lake Charles, only to be hit by another obstacle soon after.

"We went through two storms when we moved here because of the devastation of the Cameron Parish area and this was actually the hardest thing we'd ever been through," said Sha Sha's owner, Sherry Styron.

The Ryan Streetscape project is almost a year behind schedule. Styron said construction stayed in front of the restaurant for seven months.

"I think construction first started on the streetscape when we had been here about a year and a half and that is devastating for a new business," said Styron.

The goal of Streetscape is to calm traffic and provide pedestrian friendly improvements that will increase economic development downtown.

Downtown development officials said unexpected delays did happen, but they want to take the time to do the job right.

"The project was estimated on a timeline but as we've moved down the street we've faced some challenges," said Director of Downtown Lake Front Developments, Lori Marinovich.

Officials also said some people don't realize many of the issues causing the delay.

"We're working on infrastructure that's 40 and 50 years old. We've been able to address some waterline issues and some drainage issues as we go along," said Marinovich.

But for Styron, the delays meant her business struggled to survive. She said many customers could not tell the restaurant was open with construction in front of it.

"Still after all these months, we're still trying to get our customers to come back on this path," said Styron.

While some businesses downtown see a good and bad side to the construction, other businesses only see it as a positive.

"Construction workers worked with us to allow our customers easy access to the facility so it was actually a very positive experience," said owner of Gigi's Downtown, Gigi Kaufman.

The construction has now moved down the road from Sha Sha's. Even with the delay, everyone seems to agree that the city looks better.

"Overall, it really has a pleasant feel and it's welcoming and I think that's what the city was trying to accomplish," said Styron.

Styron knows there's a bigger picture to the construction and remains positive. She hopes the Ryan Streetscape Project does bring growth to the city and her restaurant.

Downtown Development officials said the project should be completed by the end of the summer.

The public can attend meetings to learn more about the Streetscape project.

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