One Algonquin business owner said construction downtown had a disastrous effect on his jewelry store during the holiday shopping season.
“It was tragic,” said Albert Kraus, owner of Gold and Jewelry Direct,
130 S. Main St. “This was the worst Christmas since we’ve been in business. I’ve been at this location for 10 years.”
Kraus said business is down more than 50 percent.
“The Christmas [shopping season] was really, really bad,” he said.
Construction in Old Town Algonquin began about 10 months ago to transform the corridor into a “beautiful, pedestrian-friendly environment while helping to preserve the character and history of the area,” according to project information on the village’s website.
South Main, North Main, Washington and Harrison streets have been affected. The Main Street project is part of a larger $30 million downtown revitalization plan to spur development in the area.
Kraus said he’s confident business will pick up in the coming weeks and months as residents become more familiar with the streetscape and construction tapers off.
“We now have parking spaces open, which is huge,” Kraus said. “If they can find a way to make signage better, it will help a lot. ... We’re going to survive.”
Algonquin Village President John Schmitt said last week that the corridor will be flush with new businesses next year when Main Street reopens.
“I know of things that have not been signed off on yet,” he said. “There’s a lot of excitement with our downtown. ... We’re in development discussions with business and property owners.”
Schmitt said the village has worked with local businesses to make the area easier to navigate.
When questioned about the affect construction has had on the businesses, Schmitt said, “No business is ever happy about construction.”
Main Street likely will be closed again, Schmitt said, so workers from AT&T can move utility lines and construction to repair the bridge can begin.
Bob Novak, owner of Riverbottom Coffee & Ice Cream Co. at 301 S. Main St., said the year has been difficult, but he business is picking up now that grading work on Main Street is complete.
“Business was worse at the end of summer, and October was terrible,” he said. “I opened the store knowing that this was going to happen, and that this would be part of our growth. [Then] when this is done, this will help us out. The only problem is that [construction] was delayed for so long because of the flooding last year.”