Downtowner Demolition's Effect on Local Businesses - WSET.com - ABC13

Downtowner Demolition's Effect on Local Businesses

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Reporter: Heather Rosenbaum | Videographer: RJ Burnette

Danville, VA -- The Downtowner building has been vacant for decades, and it's finally now being torn down. Some nearby businesses were worried that construction would hurt their bottom line.

Dust, noise, and debris slowly take the place of The Downtowner.

"It was a little bit of an eyesore. And the architecture it was a sign of a downtown that really doesn't exist anymore," said Norman Aquilo, owner of Riverland Music.

Before demolition started, businesses predicted some disruptions. Now that bulldozing blocks parking and shuts down sidewalks, some shops can hardly keep up.

"Just slow. It's not moving at all, it's not moving at all," said Wilbert Bennett, owner of Simeon's Barber Shop.

The demolition forced Bennett to cut store hours and debate moving his store all together.

"Business was booming from Monday all the way through Saturday. But now it's just Thursday, Friday, and Saturday because of all the construction," said Bennett.

But the city says removing an outdated vacant building is necessary for the big picture of the River District revitalization.

"It's an inconvenience but you can't revitalize a downtown without construction problems, noise, dust, and inconvenience," said Joe King, the city manager.

While not all businesses have seen a decrease in sales, they can all agree the lack of parking is a problem.

"For me a lot of the spaces are pretty close to the store that have been taken up. It's worth it in the long term just to improve the appearance of downtown," said Aquilo.

The demolition is just limited to the parking lot right now, but authorities say the building should be down in just a couple of weeks.They will still be cleaning up rubble until July.

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