Freshly finished Wilmington Avenue means happy businesses
Aug 15, 2018 15h29
By Jana Klopsch
Pedestrians cross at Highland Drive and the bottom of Wilmington Avenue. (Spencer W. Belnap/City Journals)
By Spencer W. Belnap | [email protected]
Wilmington Avenue is a main thoroughfare for downtown Sugar House. It provides access to many businesses and connects 1300 East and Highland Drive (1100 East). The road went under major construction to install a new underground water line earlier this year, and it has been complete as of July.
The city invested $550,000 in its share of state roadway funds to essentially make it a new street. They repaved it all with concrete and re-striped it. They also added colored crosswalks, new traffic signs, curbs, gutters, sidewalks and pedestrian access ramps. Businesses and business owners along the street and in the shopping centers surrounding it are happy to see traffic flowing again.
Amazing Lash Studio (1202 E. Wilmington Ave., Suite 140) opened their doors in late winter, just as construction plans were finalizing and about to begin.
“The walk-in business definitely slowed while it was going on,” Assistant Manager Alex Wirth said. “There wasn’t anywhere for people to walk around. There is a huge difference right now just with more coming from off the street.”
The studio dealt with some angry customers and a couple lost appointments while the street was dug up. They offered discounted rates or products if someone was especially upset about lack of access or difficulty getting to them. Online scheduling for appointments was established as well, helping the business make appointments around peak construction times.
“We had a lot of angry phone calls from people who couldn’t find parking,” Wirth said. “It definitely could have been worse, but we had a few that got so frustrated they didn’t even want to come in for the appointment. The sidewalk work now up above causes us anxiety a bit, but it hasn’t really affected us.”
All concrete and sewer work is complete, but there is further growth along Wilmington happening just east of the former Toys “R” Us building and west of Taco Bell. A six-story Marriott Springhill Suites is sprouting up, and the sidewalk on the north side of Wilmington is inaccessible for a few months. Traffic will continue to flow in both directions though. Hotel construction will be ongoing through late spring or early summer of 2019.
“I can’t wait until they get done with everything over there now,” said Justin Gerber, manager of The Doused Shop (1201 E. Wilmington Ave., Suite 105). They sell urban brand-name street wear and shoes for men. “Everything’s just going to make it such a great area.”
“There’s always been some kind of construction going on around us,” Gerber said. The Doused Shop moved into Wilmington Plaza in 2016 and plan on being there until at least 2026. “But our demographics are a little different, a little younger, so they don’t really care too much. I think it was just more of an inconvenience for our customers. We love being in Sugar House and among all the growth.”
This particular major street reconstruction was completed on budget and on time. Salt Lake City leaders and engineers are as pleased as business owners with the outcome.
“Wilmington Avenue is in the heart of Sugar House and a vital artery for our residents and the businesses on this very unique street,” Mayor Jackie Biskupski said. “We appreciate everyone who helped suggest how to make the road better and those who made these impressive improvements.”