Construction zone discourages customers from visiting local businesses

When 5 p.m. happy hour ends, St. Michael’s Irish Pub customers face bright floodlights, construction vehicles and loud cranes as they leave Gaines Street. As a result, the pub’s business is suffering.

“At 8 o’clock we’re usually busy, but now, well you can see,” says
Keith Moore, a St. Michael’s bartender of the nearly empty bar said,”It’s killing us because we’re open during the times when they’re doing the construction.”

St. Michael’s lack of patrons is largely due to the Gaines Street Project, said Moore.

The Gaines Street Project is a plan to rejuvenate the area by bringing more consumer traffic to the vicinity.

Rick McCraw, a community redevelopment coordinator at the Community Redevelopment Agency, said when construction is finished, Gaines Street will be transformed from a two-way, four-lane street to a two-way, two-lane street.

“The project will improve the area,” McCraw said. “This will slow down traffic and generate more attention to the area and not just through it.”
McCraw said construction will be done on the entire length of Gaines Street, which stretches from Lake Bradford Road to the east side of Monroe Street.

Construction workers have been working on the road from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. each day, causing motorists to take detours to get to their destinations and park further away from local Gaines Street establishments.

“I normally park on a side street if I’m trying to get [to St. Michaels],” said Michael Manke, who has been frequenting the bar for about a year. “Because people can’t drive here it’s affected how many people show up each night.”

Manke said it will be more convenient when the road construction is done.

Aside from the actual construction work, Moore says there have been other problems that have inconvenienced the bar.

“We had a couple of construction workers come in after their shift one night completely harassing our patrons,” Moore said. “We have a pretty alternative crowd and [the construction workers] were making fun of our customers.”

According to Moore, a few of the workers even took pictures of some of the patrons they were heckling.

“It was horrible, absolutely horrible,” said Moore.

Additionally, Moore says a construction worker made a threat to one of the bar’s employees after the employee asked to see identification to enter the establishment.

“They actually threatened to fill our doorman’s car with asphalt,” said Moore.

According to Moore, the customer harassment occurred two Saturdays in a row, but ended once the construction crew was switched after complaints were made to the construction company.

“This crew is much better and nowhere near as bad as the first one,” Moore said.

Although the Gaines Street Project has been a nuisance for St. Michael’s Pub, customers and employees believe the result will be worth it.

“It’ll be nice when the whole project is done,” Manke said. “It’ll stimulate the economy on this side of town and everything won’t center around Tennessee Street or Thomasville Road.”

Moore is also optimistic about the completion of the revitalization plan.

“Even though we have our complaints, we’re very excited about the outcome,” said Moore. “We’re looking forward to the light at the end of the tunnel.”