DENVER (CBS4)– A major road closure on Brighton Boulevard to Interstate 70 on Monday is the latest challenge for businesses along the street trying to keep customers coming back during ongoing construction.
The stretch of Brighton Boulevard from 44th to the I-70 ramps was closed to traffic on Monday. That stretch won’t reopen until May.
“The very day that the construction along Brighton Boulevard happened,” said Rayme Rossello, owner of Comida. “Things really started to change.”
Comida, located on 3350 Brighton Blvd., was the first member of The Source, a market of businesses located on the busy thoroughfare. Rossello says they saw a steady increase in revenue the first few years they were in the neighborhood but that changed last year.
“We’ve seen a significant drop in 2017 in the number of people coming,” said Christof Kheim, the executive director of the Forney Museum of Transportation. “We don’t have a single day that goes by where we don’t get many phone calls of people who are lost or confused.”
The museum on 4303 Brighton Blvd. has been part of the neighborhood for years, well before many people wanted to visit that part of Denver.
“I think a lot of visitors were hesitant to travel or stop anywhere along on Brighton Boulevard,” added Kheim.
But even as the redevelopment of the corridor brings hope for the future, the current construction continues to create a challenge for businesses.
Signs along Brighton remind drivers that stores are open for business. But the confusion around how to get in and out of the area often keeps customers for even getting to the street.
Some have said they change their mind and decide not to go visit that restaurant or shop as they get closer to Brighton and can’t navigate the construction.
“As a small business owner, surrounded by small business owners, I know the effect it’s had,” said Rossello.
The latest phase of the ongoing work closed the stretch of Brighton from 44th to the I-70 ramps and won’t reopen until May.
Crews are installing storm sewer lines to improve drainage in the area. The project also includes additional bike lanes and sidewalks. There are detours in place. The I-70 exits will be open but with some restrictions.
Along with the closures, the construction has also brought many new apartments into the area. Neighbors that could become additional customers for all those businesses once sidewalks and bike paths are finished late this spring.
“This has definitely been worth the risk,” said Rossello.
But those struggling while the construction continues wonder if more can be done to support businesses. While sales are down, property taxes have gone up. Some along Brighton would like to see tax breaks or funding to keep them afloat and make up for the loss of revenue they saw over the past year.
“If it weren’t for my friends and family, financially, I don’t know how I would have gotten through this year,” said Rossello. “I’m grateful to them.”
The buzz around the River Arts North District and the growth of Denver on its northern edge are reasons its tenants are excited for the future.
“We look forward to the day that Brighton Blvd. is fully reopened,” said Kheim.