Downtown Redmond chooses pain now, gain sooner

City will shut Sixth Street to get disruptive project done quicker

Downtown Redmond stores face tough months

REDMOND, Ore. - After three weeks of construction with limited one-lane traffic, starting Monday, Sixth Street in downtown Redmond will be fully closed to traffic between Antler and Deschutes avenues -- a bid to speed the improvements and get back to normal faster.

"It's tough, and we just hope the locals don't forget about us," Urban Legends owner Sandi Slawosky said Friday.

"We're coming off a very bad economy, we were just starting to come back, we were just starting to be able to breathe again," said Gilbert's House owner Jude Anders-Gilbert.

"My first thoughts were, 'No way -- we can't make it worse than it already is," Slawosky said of the decision to close the street.

Safety risks, including flying debris and a narrow lane, prompted the city to stop allowing one lane of traffic through.

The city council held an emergency meeting Friday morning to discuss the pros and cons, and to hear feedback from the business community. Councilors then voted to close the one lane that was open.

"The proposal is go to two (lanes shut), close it all, get it done," said Mayor George Endicott.

The city is fixing infrastructure under the road, pouring concrete and updating sidewalks and benches.

But Slawosky said she's lost about 90 percent of her business from the clogged and noisy construction. And it's only going to get worse with the total shutdown -- but she's trying to stay optimistic.

Slawosky and about 75 percent of the business owners downtown favor the total shutdown, because it means a shorter construction period.

As a result, the project should be complete before June, a month earlier than originally anticipated.

"It's kind of like the analogy of a Band-Aid; Do you rip it off real quick, or do you pull if off slowly?" said Redmond Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Eric Sandy. "And they really wanted to go for getting it done and the project over with."

Although many businesses say they're feeling the pinch, they're also excited to bring a fresh look to downtown Redmond.

Anders-Gilbert has seen many changes  over her 23 years located downtown, and this isn't the first project to tear things up and cause disruptions. But she says this time, it's about much more than looks.

"We will have water that we can drink down here out of our taps that isn't going through pipes from 1930," she said. "(And) a storm sewer system that ensures we no longer have to put our sandbags out."

They all can't wait for the dust to settle, and just hope they can survive in the meantime.

"It's our local constituency that will make or break us," Anders-Gilbert said.

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