The Rucker Renewal Project is complete but the COVID closures still hamper businesses along the thoroughfare in Everett. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

The Rucker Renewal Project is complete but the COVID closures still hamper businesses along the thoroughfare in Everett. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

COVID and road closures have hampered Rucker Ave. businesses

The streetscape looks better, but pedestrian traffic hasn’t returned.

EVERETT — The Rucker Renewal Project handcuffed businesses along one of Everett’s main thoroughfares for more than a year. As the project began to wrap up, the pandemic hit, and now some businesses along the corridor are just trying to survive.

“All the uncertainty makes you feel shaken,” said Maki Perry, owner of Body & Brain Yoga Tai-chi at 1319 Hewitt Ave. “You think, maybe it’s a sign that I should just give up.”

Perry said her business, teaching tai chi and meditation, has been hurt in the past year. She celebrated her eight-year anniversary in early July but said the business isn’t where she wishes it was.

“It has been tough, but I think I am tougher,” Perry said.

Construction on the project to give Rucker Avenue a facelift was completed last month — more than a year after it began and months behind the anticipated reopening this spring.

In December, a city engineer attributed delays to wet weather, abandoned underground utilities and unsuitable soil. Upon excavation, crews found an old wooden water line, voids, oil tanks and other problems that required more work and fill than expected.

“That is a 100-year-old roadway. Each of those presented a challenge,” Tom Hood, a senior engineer working on the streetscape project, told The Daily Herald in December.

The work along the four blocks between Pacific and Everett avenues added a tree-lined median, improved lighting and replaced an aging water line. The $9.6 million state- and city-funded project included removing one lane in each direction north of Hewitt Avenue.

The redevelopment was designed to make the environment more walkable with larger sidewalks, more street parking and landscaping. Businesses along Rucker Avenue said the improvements look great, but not all have seen results.

The Rucker Renewal Project is complete but the COVID closures still hamper businesses along the thoroughfare in Everett. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

The Rucker Renewal Project is complete but the COVID closures still hamper businesses along the thoroughfare in Everett. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

“It looks beautiful. Hopefully it does make a difference in pedestrian traffic and getting customers in, but we haven’t noticed a huge difference yet,” said Lynnette Smith, a longtime employee at Bargreen’s Coffee Co., 2821 Rucker Ave.

On top of the months of torn-up streets and limited access, starting in March businesses were affected by closures and mandates instituted by Gov. Jay Inslee to quell the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chris Covington, owner of Port Gardner Bay Winery and Structural Design Associates, in the same building at 3006 Rucker Ave., said he doesn’t expect a return to normal for the winery side of his business until next year.

“For me it is real easy to see the science, if the graph flattens out he (Gov. Inslee) might consider opening us up, until that happens we are closed down,” Covington said.

While the winery continues to sell wine by the bottle and case, tastings and events are shuttered for the foreseeable future. Covington said he is fortunate to have the engineering business to lean on but recognizes that isn’t the situation for many others.

“There are coffee shops and restaurants that are just shut down. I feel real bad for them. They are good places, good hard-working people,” he said.

Stylist Mindi Skidds works at Hairforce Salon and Color Studio at 2914 Rucker Ave. She said since reopening in June she’s worked seven days a week to meet the needs of customers.

“I finally just got all my clients in this week,” Skidds said. “I think I am booked into September, just because people are worried if we get shut down again they want to get in.”

The coronavirus prevention measures are extensive, Skidds said, including no waiting room, customer temperature checks and staff changing masks and smocks after each client, but she’ll do whatever is necessary to not jeopardize her license and stay open.

“I don’t care what they ask us to do, I would do it just so we could work, because I don’t want to get shut down again,” she said.

This story has been modified to correct the original planned completion date of the Rucker Avenue project.

Ian Davis-Leonard: 425-339-3448;; Twitter: @IanDavisLeonard.

Ian Davis-Leonard reports on working class issues through Report for America, a national service program that places emerging journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues. To support Ian’s work at The Daily Herald with a tax-deductible donation, go to

Talk to us

More in Herald Business Journal

An artist’s conception of a Zunum Aero hybrid-electric plane. (Zunum Aero)
Collapsed hybrid-electric Bothell plane-maker sues Boeing

Zunum alleges that Boeing, an investor, improperly used intellectual property and trade secrets.

The Point Wells industrial area next to Woodway, where a developer proposes to build more than 3,000 condos. (BSRE Point Wells)
Point Wells plan should abide stricter rules, critics say

Landslide hazard regulations drew scrutiny at a public meeting this week on BSRE’s longtime proposal.

New Snohomish County online guide aims to boost businesses

County officials have launched an online business directory to help shoppers find local food and wares.

FILE - In this Tuesday, June 20, 2017 file photo a Boing 737 MAX 9 airplane performs a demonstration flight at the Paris Air Show, in Le Bourget, east of Paris, France. Europe’s aviation regulator has taken a step closer to letting the Boeing 737 Max fly again. It published a proposed airworthiness directive on Tuesday that could see it clear the aircraft within weeks to resume flying after nearly two years and a pair of deadly crashes. (AP Photo/Michel Euler, file)
European regulator moves to clear Boeing 737 for flight

The move comes after the FAA already cleared the Boeing 737 Max earlier this month.

Diners Bonnie Breitman, left, and Casey McGan huddle near an outdoor gas fire as they eat lunch outside in a blustery wind Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020, in Bellingham, Wash. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Sunday announced tighter restrictions in the state in response to a flood of new cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Restaurants and bars will again be limited to outdoor dining and to-go service, gyms, and some entertainment centers will be required to close indoor services. Retail stores, including grocery stores, will be ordered to limit indoor capacity and indoor social gatherings will be prohibited unless attendees have quarantined for 14 days or tested negative for COVID-19 and quarantined for a week. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
New shutdown expected to cost Washington restaurants $800M

The Washington Hospitality Association urged lawmakers to figure out ways to support hospitality businesses.

Burton Clemans, an employee at Sisters for 8 years, packages up a Sisters cookie on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020 in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Sisters closes, for now, as eateries enter another lockdown

The four-week ban on indoor dining has local restaurants pondering whether to shut their doors for good.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee speaks during a news conference, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020, at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. Inslee announced new restrictions on businesses and social gatherings for the next four weeks as the state continues to combat a rising number of coronavirus cases. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Inslee announces $135 million pandemic relief plan

The state will use CARES Act dollars to help businesses and people impacted by latest restrictions.

The AFK Tavern is closing up shop on Nov. 28 after 10 years due to their lease being up and the impact of COVID on November 15, 2020.  (Kevin ClAFK / The Herald)
Game over: After 10 years, last call at Everett’s AFK Tavern

The closing is due to COVID and the end of a lease. The owner hopes to reopen elsewhere in 2022.

Steve Dickson, administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Aviation Summit in Washington, D.C., on March 5, 2020. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Zach Gibson.
FAA faces its own reckoning as it gives Boeing path to fly jet

The agency is devoting more time and resources to assess how pilots react to emergencies.

Middle-school counselor Shanon Baker poses for a photo in the school's library Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020, in Sammamish, Wash. A master's degree and a full-time job weren't enough to help Baker land an apartment she could afford in Seattle's east-side suburbs. But a $750 million commitment by a partnership backed in part by Microsoft's affordable housing initiative helped do the trick. Urban Housing Ventures is cutting rents at 40% of the units in three buildings as part of an effort to make sure teachers, nurses and other middle-income professionals can live in the communities where they work. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Microsoft-led housing effort cuts rents in Seattle suburbs

The plan is to help middle-income professionals live in the communities where they work.

The father of Bhavye Suneja, one of the pilots of a Lion Air plane that crashed in Indonesia, reacts as he leaves for the airport in New Delhi, India, on Oct.29, 2018. The pilot's mother, Sangeeta Suneja, says the FAA and Boeing are bringing the 737 Max back to service prematurely. (AP Photo, file)
Pilot’s mother criticizes FAA, Boeing for rushing Max’s comeback

Her son lost control of a Lion Air plane after an automated system repeatedly pushed its nose down.

Steve Hobbs
Democratic lawmakers ask Inslee to lift ban on indoor dining

They want to try to scaling back on occupancy before forcing an end to inside service.