Business owner says road project is killing business
A restaurant owner says a road improvement project could put him in bankruptcy if it goes on much longer. He believes there should be more protection for businesses in the path of progress.
At Schlotzsky's on Creighton Road, the tables are almost empty at the height of the lunch hour. Owner JC Carlsson said the barrels and bulldozers in front of his restaurant are keeping customers away. The work is part of an improvement project for Creighton Road that includes resurfacing, widening in some spots, sidewalk upgrades and more.
Carlsson said the only notice he got was a postcard. That didn't begin to describe the impact of the project or how much the main entrance would be affected.
He explained, "I didn't realize it would be inaccessible for weeks at a time and/or months at a time, and now it's been several months the construction has been here and I've seen my business go down $1000 a day in revenue."
He's been shocked at the lack of communication between the contractor hired by the Florida Department of Transportation, and the business owners along Creighton. He said when he had questions about access or unexplained delays, there was no point of contact.
Carlsson continued, "I am being held hostage, literally hostage because of that blockade. They built a wall, yeah, they built it right outside my restaurant."
Weeks of effort, including a call to his congressman, finally got an explanation about one delay, when a subcontractor walked off the job. Carlsson believes there should be legislation protecting business owners, including a mandate for communication and compensation for lost revenue.
He doesn't know how much longer he can hold out.
Carlsson said, "It's very scary. My life savings, my wife's life savings. We're both veterans, I'm a retired Marine, we've invested everything for the livelihood of our families and our future."
A spokesman for the Florida Department of Transportation said every effort is made to inform businesses about projects that will affect them. Postcards are delivered in person, and include several ways to contact the Department. The Creighton Road project is now slated to wrap up in February. The portion in front of Carlsson's store should be finished in a couple of weeks.