Things just went from bad to worse for small business owners in the area of the city's $26.5 million Lead and Coal renovation. On Monday, Feb. 21, the city blocked off Yale between Lead and Avenida César Chávez to rehab a storm drain system.
Tearing up Yale is part of an ongoing $2.68 million storm drain rehab that started in June and is being tied to construction on the one-ways.
Francisco Rodriguez and his family have crafted custom piñatas at Casa de Piñatas (2221 Lead SE) for 14 years. Now he's worried that this might be his last. "It's been a nightmare," he says, "I don't know if I'm going to stay here or close down." While he was making $2,000 to $3,000 a week in December 2009, he says his total for December 2010—right after construction began—was less than $2,000.
Like other entrepreneurs in the Lead corridor, he says the welfare of small businesses is not one of the city's priorities. "They don't really care about small businesses," he says. "We just got to go with the flow of whatever's happening ... but it shouldn't be like that."
The Rodriguezes aren't the only ones feeling the strain. Joe Torres, owner of Royalty Kutz (2217 Lead SE), has been cutting hair at his shop for three years. But with walk-ins down an estimated 25 percent since the construction began, Torres is looking to locate elsewhere.
Fatima Tannagda runs a salon a few doors down. After working as a teacher on the Zuni Pueblo, she opened the business in September unaware that the roads near her shop would be closed for months. Tannagda says her salon never had a chance to get a foothold, but she doesn’t see giving up as an option. She’s writing a letter that she plans to submit to the City Council. "I am going to fight for what is my right."