East University Boulevard and North Park Avenue marks
the starting point of University Boulevard construction.
Photographed by Lexie Alvarez
By Lexie Alvarez

With the ongoing construction of the Tucson modern streetcar, some businesses are seeing a decrease in sales and daily store visits. Other stores, however, are using the construction to their advantage.

 At first, Mark Levkowitz, the manager of the Chicago Music Store, was wary of the construction. His feelings changed, however, once construction started. “Now it makes us relatively easy to get to,” he said. 

The Chicago Music Store will receive a $90,000 grant from Tucson Partnership to restore its historical façade. 

The construction, however, is hurting other businesses just as much as it is helping them.

“I think it’s an unnecessary evil. It’s dirty and noisy. I just hope when they’re finished, it will bring more people to the area,” said Tom Cassidy, store owner of Ooo! Outside of Ordinary. 

Inconvenience, noise, parking limitations, and timing are many factors that contribute to the demise of many businesses down the modern streetcar route.
“Any road construction typically barricades and slows down traffic,” said Steve Taylor, a Tucson business consultant. “People tend to avoid the area, take different routes and park other places, sometimes spontaneously. It’s their own perception that’s a big deal.”

The modern streetcar promises to bring in a new crowd of people to the downtown area and the University of Arizona campus. Businesses hope for increased sales.

“We’ll get people from all parts of Tucson to add on to the college crowd we already have,” said Prince Ampong, the owner of Finally Made on University Boulevard.. 

The main goal of the construction is to create a more urbanized area, whether it be retail, office or residential. 

“Along that route, it’s going to increase people in the area and have a lot more business development,” Taylor said.

With progress in mind, the City of Tucson is focusing on the final objective. “The goal is to build and operate a modern streetcar,” said Carlos Deleon, director of Transit Services. “We’ll install railings, new amenities and pavement, and also an overhead power system.”

Driving will be restricted on Broadway Boulevard, Congress Street, a section of Fourth Avenue, University Boulevard, and Second Street through the UA campus. Construction is expected to last until summer 2013, but the streetcar needs an additional six-month testing period until it opens to the public.

Even with completion a year away, some businesses are already renovating others are moving. Posner’s Art Supply, currently located on North Park Avenue, will be relocating to University Boulevard between American Apparel and Espresso Art.

Until construction is over, small businesses must tough it out. “You have to go through certain things to get to certain things,” Ampong said.

“If progress is going to be made, you gotta go through it,” Cassidy said.


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