Downtown WPB road improvement project slows business at some nearby restaurants

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. --

Clematis Street is considered to be the gateway to the heart of Downtown West Palm Beach. Over the last few weeks, some stores have said the pulse has weakened due to a city road improvement project.

"It's been super slow for us. I mean at the same time having this street closure, it's all people's perception when they come down," said Kristen Seward, a manager at Longboards Restaurant.

Steward is referring to the city project aimed at improving several blocks of Clematis. But because the road is closed off, Steward estimates sales at Longboards have dipped between 25% and 40%.

"It's loud. We actually haven't gone to a couple of our favorite restaurants. You hear it right now. You don't want to have dinner in this loud noise," said Scott Price, a West Palm Beach resident.

And while people cannot drive down the section of Clematis with the construction going on, the city did leave the sidewalks open allowing folks to walk to their favorite restaurants and businesses.

"You got to take care of the infrastructure. It'll make everyone happy in the long run, even though you have to put up with a little mess every once and a while, but it's fine," siad Richard Ackerman, a West Boynton Beach resident eating a Longboards.

Ackerman is not alone in feeling the way he does. Some said while parking is not easy, they can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

"I really don't feel bad about it. I know when it's complete it's going to be beautiful," said Cora Davis, co-owner of Cafe Sweet Bakery.

Some said the project is an eyesore for some now, but eventually the city is hoping the improvements will keep the street shining.

A construction worker out at the scene on Saturday night said his crew is ahead of schedule and is hoping to have the fence that is blocking the road taken down by the start of the week.

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