North Texas Daily

Growing pains plague East Hickory

Growing pains plague East Hickory

Growing pains plague East Hickory
November 25
00:20 2014

Matthew Brown / Intern Writer

Local businesses have been forced to evolve to suit their new environment since construction began on Hickory Street earlier this year.

While some have succeeded, others are struggling. Mellow Mushroom’s business is down 20 percent compared to last year.

“We are getting hit by it,” said Deborah Shubnell, a manager at Mellow Mushroom. “A lot of the customers want to know if it has affected our business, and it has.”

Originally slated for completion between January and late February, construction has fallen behind schedule and is now projected to finish in March or April. In spite of these developments, business owners and staff remain optimistic that the decreased business in the short term will be worth the economic boost in the long run.

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Denton city road workers continue to repair Hickory Street. The project was projected to be completed by February at the latest, but has been pushed back to April.

“It’s going to help this whole part of the city,” said Philip Hunsberger, a bartender at Queenie’s Steakhouse.

The consensus among most affected people is, in spite of delays, the city is handling the East Hickory Grand Street Project well. Communication has been a priority between Denton and business owners.

“I communicate with [owners] three to four times a week,” said Julie Glover, program administrator with the Denton Economic Development Partnership. “Every week, we send out a letter saying, ‘This is what we did last week.’”

Government officials are putting forth the effort to keep the Hickory Street project from resembling past projects where local businesses have fallen through the cracks, such as the state’s expansion of University Drive in 2005.

“I spent a year and a half cut off from the highway,” said Bryan Russell, owner of Duffy’s Auto Service on University Drive. “Nobody reached out to help me.”

Denton has tried to bring more opportunities to Hickory Street through events such as Day of the Dead Festival coffin races and Geezer Fest. Events like this offer a sweet relief to businesses suffering from decreases in revenue.

However, the city’s contributions cannot entirely alleviate the pain some businesses are feeling.

“I know that they’ve tried, but people aren’t coming in the doors,” Shubnell said. “We’re on our own mission to try to encourage business through social media.”

City government officials are still seeking alternative means to bring a more rapid completion to the project since a $400,000 proposal to accelerate work was rejected in October. Initial estimates for the project were just over $3 million.

“We decided to start working Saturdays,” Glover said. “We have another section that was going to begin a little bit later, but if we roll it into this phase, we can shave a week off the end.”

Upon completion, East Hickory Street will boast 50 more parking spots, sidewalks that are more wheelchair accessible, smoother roads and greener scenery that will include trees and other landscaping to brighten the current concrete façade.

“Right now it’s a big hole,” Hunsberger said. “It’ll look much better.”

In the meantime, businesses will have to buckle down for the winter and hope that inclement weather doesn’t delay the project any further.

Featured Image: City road crews tear apart Hickory Street between Bell Avenue and Locust Street. Photos by Byron Thompson – Senior Staff Photographer

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