Metro Crenshaw/LAX construction hurting local businesses

Wednesday, August 13, 2014
Metro Crenshaw/LAX construction hurting local businesses
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A Metro construction project designed to help the Crenshaw area with a line to LAX is having a rough impact on small-business owners.

CRENSHAW DISTRICT, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Some businesses in the Crenshaw Corridor say they are on the brink of shutting down because of a Metro project designed to help the area with a line to LAX. Without parking for customers, or even a sidewalk, the impact has been rough on small-business owners.

Banners lining Crenshaw Boulevard practically shout that stores are open for business while construction for the underground Metro line is underway.

Finding a place to park, however, is difficult, especially on the 4100 block. That's where merchant Gerald Duncan says inadequate parking has already cost him 98 percent of his business.

"We have no parking, we have no visibility, we have no foot traffic," said said Malai Hair Store's Duncan.

Duncan's hair-extension store shares the block with 15 other shop owners who tell similar stories: Sales are down 50-75 percent.

Metro has leased parking space across the street to help.

"(Customers) don't want to walk 500 feet just to get to a store," said Duncan.

"We are working in each area in a very quick manner to minimize the impact in each area," said Crenshaw/LAX Line Project Director Charles Beauvoir.

The question is whether Metro's help will come quickly enough -- and be enough. On Duncan's block there's a vacant lot that could be converted for parking, but even that small measure has been blocked -- by the landowner.

Approved and projected for October:

- $250,000 per year for a business services center

- Case management and marketing advice for each of 120 businesses

- A 72-hour quick-response plan

Some retailers say it's loans they need to cover rent, taxes and utilities. Even then some question whether they could recoup their losses to payback a loan.

The Metro line construction went into full swing last spring: an 8.5-mile, $2-billion transportation project, projected as a boon for Crenshaw's future.

But even L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, on the Metro board, says more must be done to help businesses survive four more years of construction

"The situation is urgent, and I am actively seeking additional financial resources to assist them as expeditiously as possible," said Ridley-Thomas.

Duncan's not sure he can hold on.

"I've been here my entire life and I put my entire life savings into this business, and I want to stay here, but we need real help," said Duncan.