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Local construction postponed so small businesses can ‘rebuild’

Sugar House Coffee, along with other local businesses, put out signs to indicate open business on 1100 East — hoping to tackle financial burdens posed by the pandemic. Salt Lake City officials were driven to delay a construction project on the road after local business owners expressed concern about the project’s timing — as many are still recovering from the pandemic. (Marisa Cooper)

Salt Lake City officials postponed a construction project along 1100 East — stretching from 2100 South to Ramona Avenue — after over 30 local businesses expressed financial concerns, citing exacerbated impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Originally meant to begin Monday, it was announced the week before that the project would instead be slated for the spring of 2021.

The road work was planned primarily to replace damaged sidewalks and improve water flow and drainage along the route, according to Project Manager Ramin Nasrabadi.

Nasrabadi said he now expects work to begin in late March or early April. He said the delay in work was “per the request” of local business owners because “hopefully by then everything is back to normal” regarding the pandemic. 

Local business owners — including Emily Potts, owner of Sugar House Coffee — were told about the project just a week before it was set to begin, according to an Instagram post on the cafe’s official page, @sugarhousecoffee

“We understand this work needs to be done [on] our sidewalks but right now, as we begin to crawl out of a slow 6 months during a pandemic, is not the right time,” the coffee shop posted Wednesday.

Had construction gone ahead as planned, traffic along the route would have been restricted to a single southbound lane until late fall, according to the city’s notice to impacted business owners. Pedestrian and bicyclist traffic would have been similarly restricted.

The intersection of 1100 East and Ramona Avenue marks one end of a construction project officials have now postponed until spring despite plans to start work Aug. 31. Officials were driven to delay the project after local business owners expressed concern about the project’s timing — asmany are still recovering from the pandemic. (Marisa Cooper)

“Everyone will want to avoid the area regardless if they want to support [local businesses] or not,” Potts told The Forum prior to the postponement. “Most of these small businesses are family owned and have under 20 employees. The loss of business for two to three months may be catastrophic to so many of us. We are the last little strip of mom and pop shops, many of us are hanging on by a string and trying to slowly crawl out of a very hard six months trying to survive the drop in business during this pandemic.”

Nasrabadi said all businesses will have “at least one access point open at all times,” once the construction begins in spring. 

Potts headed a petition and reached out to project officials on “behalf of over 30 small businesses and dozens of residents that would have been negatively impacted by the road closures and construction on 1100 East.” 

Potts posted on Sugar House Coffee’s Instagram page to celebrate the postponement Wednesday. She thanked the Sugar House Community Council for its help in voicing concerns.

Potts said delaying the project offers businesses the chance to recover from the pandemic’s effects before dealing with the impacts of restricted access the construction will create.

“I can personally speak for each of my team members about how grateful we all are to be given more time to rebuild Sugar House Coffee,” she posted Wednesday. 

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Marisa Cooper
Marisa Cooper is a senior communication major with a psychology minor. She hopes to find a career path within public relations or journalism with time for a mindful work/life balance. As of late, she’s been exploring passions for embroidery, hiking, house plants and podcasts. Marisa is thrilled to take on the role of managing editor this year.

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