Business fell off nearly 60% when construction got underway, and as anyone who has worked in the difficult independent-restaurant business knows, that’s not a situation that can continue for very long. It’s amazing that the Panellis stayed in business as long as they could — and they’re hardly alone. The light rail agency claims that they try to promote businesses along the corridor, but they’re not having much of an impact. During construction, the agency claims net-positive business growth as 61 businesses have opened while 55 have closed, but that’s a pretty pathetic net growth of six businesses along what had been one of the main thoroughfares of St. Paul in over a year’s time. Furthermore, the 55 businesses that have closed were established, successful enterprises like Caribe, whose pre-light-rail leases and taxes probably generated more private and public revenue than more recent operations that can take advantage of declining lease values in the area. And how many of these new operations are retail businesses, generating sales and local tax revenues? Given the damage to traffic in the area, I’d be inclined to guess that retail businesses in the University Avenue corridor are going to be a thing of the past — like Caribe.But that wasn't taken into account by the builders of this boondoggle. So, guess who will wind up paying for it otherwise?
Sunday, April 15, 2012
Via HotAir, a lesson in light-rail politics and its impact on local businesses in St. Paul: