By Aaron Kunkler / Bothell-Kenmore Reporter
Bothell Main Street business owners say they are finally starting to recover after business took a hit as the city redeveloped the downtown thoroughfare.
A fire swept through several buildings during the summer of 2016, adding delay to the city’s reconstruction. Many Main Street merchants said the fire cleanup and construction had reduced the number of customers coming through their doors. The city finished work on most of Main Street last April, one year after it began, and store owners say business is picking up.
Karen Cho, of Hana Sushi, said business has been improving since June and is almost back to normal. New customers have been drawn to the restaurant, and she likes the look of the wider sidewalks. During redevelopment, the city converted several angled parking spots into a fewer number of parallel spaces.
“For now, there’s not a big problem,” Cho said, but added it may be harder to find parking once the Mercantile Apartments are completed.
But Bothell Jewelers and Collectibles owner Rachman Cantrell said the lack of parking has meant fewer people are coming through his doors.
“A lot of people don’t know how to park in what they call the designated parking spots,” Cantrell said.
Selyn Boutique employee Stephanie Park said since opening just over a year ago their business has been affected by construction. She said they’re recovering from it.
Across the street at Harmony Massage, Julie and Kirk Bradley have also seen improvements at their shop, which is both a boutique and massage parlor. They said the massage parlor didn’t see a drop in customers, which the Bradleys attribute to it being reservation-based. But the reduction in foot traffic did affect the boutique. They like the sidewalk improvements, which they said has increased the number of people walking around downtown Bothell.
“It’s just been so much better,” Julie Bradley said.
Rain City Wines’ owner Santo Roman said he’s seen no changes in business during or following construction.
The $5.8 million Bothell Main Street project was one of the city’s final pieces of its plan to revitalize the downtown core. It widened sidewalks, making them more walkable and allowing businesses use the extra space for seating and displays. The street was also straightened and work was done to modernize the underground utilities. Nearly $5 million of the project’s cost came from the Washington state Transportation Improvement Board.
The roadwork was scheduled to be finished last November, but contractors were unable to find metal sleeves needed to cast concrete. Work on the road, curb and sidewalk couldn’t begin until bollard foundations using the metal sleeves were completed. This, coupled with delays in underground utility work, pushed the project’s completion back five months.
This story originally appeared in the Bothell-Kenmore Reporter, a sibling paper of The Daily Herald.