St-Denis merchants hope street will 'bounce back' after year of repairs
Businesses fled commercial district due to lost revenue as large swaths of street were torn up, inaccessible
Merchants on St-Denis Street say "For Rent" and "A Louer" signs have become a far too common sight on the commercial stretch that was buried under construction for a year.
Businesses fled the commercial district between Duluth Avenue and Marie-Anne Street due to lost revenue as both the road and sidewalks along St-Denis were torn up and, at times, inaccessible.
The city announced Wednesday that it surpassed its targets for road and infrastructure repairs in 2016, spending nearly $600 million on repairs.
The construction work on St-Denis Street, which began in September 2015, was a nightmare for businesses.
"This is how we got affected," he said. "People just avoided the area because it was always blocked."
The City of Montreal announced Wednesday that it would be "donating" the terrasse to the St-Denis Merchants' Association for free. There's no word yet on how welcome that donation will be.
Despite the worst of the construction closures being behind them, many merchants are concerned about the future of the once-booming street.
"We should work on the image of the street," said Alain Dussault, owner of the restaurant Le Hachoir. "The vision of what people think St-Denis is, is now, 'It's empty.'"
Units to fill
Property manager Dino Santelli still has four commercial units to lease on St-Denis Street. He says the vacancies are all a result of last year's repair work.
"Most of those tenants that were in those buildings, they were new businesses," he said. "So they didn't have that major client base to support them during the rough times."
Still, he's optimistic moving forward.
"I think it's going to bounce back."
With files from Antoni Nerestant