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Short-term pain for long-term gain
Makeover to be completed November
Signs posted on Lawrence Street at Fourth Street remind the public that all businesses are open and have pedestrian sidewalk access during a streetscape makeover. - photo by JEFF BENZIGER/Courier photo

Fourth Street may look like a ghost town with construction of a $3.9 million makeover but merchants are doing their best to carry on business as usual.

As far as most of them are concerned, business hasn't suffered all that much in relation to the gains soon coming.

Before it's over this fall, Fourth Street will have a new look, complete with new entry way features, landscaping, trees and street furniture. Two roundabouts have also been removed. City officials have ordered the renovation to make downtown more attractive to businesses while retrofitting the storm drainage infrastructure to handle mixed uses such as apartments above ground-floor businesses.

Work will continue for months still but sidewalks have been left open to allow access to all businesses.

Justin Smernes, pharmacist and co-owner of Ceres Drugs, said business has still been good despite loss of street parking.

"We really haven't lost prescription customers due to the construction," said Smernes. "It's been kind of an inconvenience for them just because of the parking situation. We have a shared lot with the bank."

"It has not affected us in the least," said Shane Parson, owner of Embroidery Plus. "We're buried. We still get some walk-ins but less walk-ins have been a little easier on my people."

Customers are able to access his place of business through the alley.

Parson said the new Flawless Hair Salon & Makeup Studio in his building at 2938 Fourth Street, is enjoying a growth in business despite Fourth Street being tore up.

Work is continuing to advance on readying one of Parson's buildings for Pasta Pronto, a new eatery. He expects the restaurant to open before the downtown work is done and is working on bringing in an antique dealer.

"Look what it's going to do to downtown," said Parson. "There's going to people come down that's never been down there. I really look at it like a positive."