SPARTANBURG, SC (WSPA) – At the height of the pandemic, the City of Spartanburg allowed restaurants to expand outdoor seating to help businesses make money while following restrictions.
Now, surrounding business say the street closure is affecting their bottom line.
If you’ve come to downtown Spartanburg, you’ve seen tables, chairs and umbrellas set up for customers, while some businesses on North Main Street say there needs to be a compromise to help business flow their way.
In May of 2020, Spartanburg City Council voted to close part of Main Street to help restaurants serve customers during covid restrictions. Teresa Hildebrand and Kay Stephens enjoy outdoor eating.
“Selfishly we enjoy the street being closed and …no traffic running up and down you can see it from a distance,” Customers Teresa Hildebrand and Kay Stephens said.
Now that people are getting vaccines and restrictions are being lifted, some Spartanburg businesses say traffic is being re-routed away from their front doors.
“We’re working on a number of things that we think will help retail downtown overall, cause a lot of what we’re hearing is from retailers specifically,” City of Spartanburg’s Christopher Story said.
In April, Spartanburg City Council voted to keep part of Main Street closed until August, which allows businesses close to Morgan Square to have extra seating for customers. While some businesses say traffic is down, others say the closure is beneficial.
“Because we were sitting here, I said I think I’ll run to the tea shop. I’ve never bought loose tea before, but because we were here having lunch, I went in a bought a lot of tea stuff,” Hildebrand said.
More than 30 businesses in the downtown area are asking for a possible hybrid schedule as a compromise, to open the street for cars during the day and close the street it in the evenings and on weekends. Kathy Silverman owns two businesses that she says are affected by the street closure.
“Everyday myself and other business owners have expressed that we hear our customers saying they’ve passed through, and they thought downtown was closed. They pass through and see all the barricades and they think downtown is closed or there’s some construction project going on,” Silverman said.
Now, the city is working on a survey to get public input and business owners are hoping for a solution to get traffic flowing their way.
North Main Street will remain closed until August, unless council reverses that April vote.
City officials will use the surveys to gather a list of ideas to present to council during their August meeting
A link to the survey can be found here.