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Fears surround Front Street construction

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Wilmington City Council has some big plans for improving downtown, but some business owners are worried they will not be around by the time the work is finished.

“As a small business owner, in this economy, I’ve had enough challenges this year,” said owner of Daughtry’s Old Books, Gwenyfar Rohler.

Front Street construction improvements were originally scheduled to start in October, but downtown business owners said they would not survive the mess during the holiday season.

Rohler said, “I found the city of Wilmington very receptive when I talked with people and explained my concerns.”

The start date has since been pushed back to January, with the project expected to take six to eight months to complete. The city will install new sidewalks, lights, and traffic signals, while CFPUA will install new water and sewer lines.

City of Wilmington spokesperson, Malissa Talbert said, “The whole point is to get visitors downtown and then to get them into the businesses for our merchants.”

But owners say they are skeptical of the timeline.

“January through April is not going to be as critical a time for us, but I am concerned about them staying on schedule,” added Rohler.

Owner of Momentum Surf and Skate, Hunter Ford said, “I’m concerned that they’re going to get in and they’re not going to get the bid in on time and they’re not going to start the project until the second or third week of February, and then they’re going to take ten months to do it.”

To help keep the work on track, the contract includes plans for 16-hour work days and a $2,000 a day incentive if construction is finished early.

“Once you get started, you want to get in and get out as quick as you possibly can,” Talbert said.

Business owners hope that is the case, but they can’t worry about it too much – They have got a business to run.

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Story summary

videoWilmington City Council has some big plans for improving downtown, but some business owners are worried they will not be around by the time the work is finished.

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