By Lindsey Seavert, WCCO-TV

ST. PAUL (WCCO) — Businesses affected by the Central Corridor light rail construction are getting a small boost.

Many businesses say they need to hang signs outside their stores, showing detoured customers they are still open for business. That normally requires a permit and fee.

The St. Paul City Council voted two weeks ago to waive that fee, to make it easier for struggling businesses. It seems something as simple as a sign could be key to survival.

On University Avenue, the course of construction has changed dinner hour at Caffe Biaggio.

This week, owner Shari Breed notices empty tables.

“Every day seems like a new obstacle to make it harder for customers to get to the restaurant,” she said.

So, she’s fighting what could eat up her profits by hanging up signs, showing customers the restaurant is still open as crews dig the Central Corridor light rail line.

“We thought we’d better do it now because you don’t have a big margin in the restaurant business. So if you lose 20 percent and your profit margin is 15 percent that is not good,” she said.

Up and down University, signs and specials beg customers to keep coming.

The St. Paul City Council will now allow businesses to hang up these signs without the usual fee but many are doing more to keep doors open.

At Raymond and University, businesses like a nearby liquor store hope a Central Corridor perks card lures in customers. Get the card and you’ll get 10 percent off inside the store.

Further down University, Subway is offering discounts on sandwiches, and to get those savings, customers can download a mobile app from their phone. And on Fairview and University, a furntiture store hopes their “Open for business during construction” sign is a sign of survival.

Breed just hopes by the time construction is through, customers haven’t lost their appetite for local business.

“Hopefully we won’t have to cut hours and staff too much,” she said.

The St. Paul City Council also voted to allow the business to hang the signs up for the duration of the construction, when normally they could only put the signs up for 90 days.

The nearly $1 billion project is expected to be completed in 2014 and will stretch 11 miles long, linking downtown St. Paul and downtown Minneapolis through Washington and University avenues.

Comments (7)
  1. RIII says:

    It is so nice the city will not charge them for hanging “Going out of business sale” signs. This project is an ill conceived waste of taxpayer dollars that is resulting in the loss of jobs and livelihoods for many hard working people. I hope all that were responsible FOAD.

  2. max says:

    We need LRT like we need AHITH (A-Hole-In-The-Head).

  3. T says:

    I thought University Av and I 94 already connected the two cities.

    1. A says:

      Yeah, easy enough if you have a car. Someone like me, who has to rely on public transportation to get to work, doesn’t have the income to afford gas/insurance. I rarely get to St. Paul because I don’t want to take the buses. A train between the two cities will be a lifesaver when it is finished, and will bring more business to those that are currently suffering.

  4. Droze. says:

    This project will come on line just about the time gas will be hitting $4.50-$5 per gallon. We’ll be well into one-party Republican rule by then and they’ll squander our tax money drilling for oil that isn’t there. We’ll see how useless LRT is then.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Watch & Listen LIVE