Small businesses fight downtown construction

Main Street Revitalization Project continues, small businesses suffering


Laiken Swinney, Reporter

New Albany’s small businesses are one of the foundations for holding up the city and keeping it thriving; but what happens whenever that one building block isn’t getting the support it needs? That’s what the endless construction is doing to these businesses. 

New Albany’s ‘Main Street Revitalization Project’ has taken place downtown for over a year, and the small businesses that regularly thrive on that street have begun to suffer because of it. Not only is the construction making it hard to drive regularly, it also makes it difficult for potential customers to walk on the sidewalks in order to get to the businesses. 

“It definitely is harder to be able to walk around and enjoy, like, a Friday night downtown,” junior Anna Sekula said. “I still go down there to shop and walk around, but it is harder to spend the night walking around, so I [usually] park on the side of the construction where I need to go.”

Sekula said that the businesses are what make New Albany a better place and that they attract new visitors.

Many people didn’t know about the impact of the construction downtown until The Odd Shop’s owner, Christian Johnson, posted a series of pictures about it on her Instagram account. One portion of the caption says, “Please come out and support the shops being affected by this construction. We need you.”

“[I go downtown and shop] about once every two weeks or so,” sophomore Jasper Howard said. “I don’t live downtown, so I don’t get a chance to go down there that much, unless it’s for a special occasion type thing.” 

Howard also said that the construction didn’t deter him from going down there and shopping or eating at the restaurants. 

Johnson has continued to express her concerns and complaints about the local government ignoring their requests for more assistance during the construction. During a council meeting on January 7, the council decided to designate $500,000 in ARP funds for only some of the small businesses. The mayor has also expressed his feelings about the nuisance of the project, but admits that he has no more control over the schedule and can’t bring the construction to a halt anytime soon. 

“I don’t disagree that [the construction] is a hindrance, but we live in America, and Americans are really lazy,” senior Abigail Hayes said. “It is not that hard to park your car a block away and walk [to the businesses].”

Hayes says that if people could stop driving all the time and make time out of their day to actually walk around, then New Albany would be more lively and successful. 

“I don’t think that these businesses are completely inaccessible… people are just lazy and don’t want to walk,” said Hayes.

A GoFundMe page has been linked in The Odd Shop’s Instagram bio which has raised thousands of dollars by local citizens for support of the local businesses. 

“If the city doesn’t do something to help the businesses here we are going to have a very beautiful and completely abandoned Main Street. What is downtown without the businesses? Nothing. We are looking at having a very beautiful ghost town.” Johnson said in a post on The Odd Shop Instagram. 

Construction is supposed to be finished by the end of 2023, according to WDRB.