Owner of The Little Read Book store Linda Burg knows that when it comes to the ongoing streetscape construction work, there's a light at the end of the tunnel — a very long tunnel.
'When it's done, it's going to be spectacular,' said Burg of the reconstruction in the Village of Wauwatosa, which began in early May. The project — projected to reach substantial completion by the end of October — will replace old infrastructure and road surface along State Street and concrete pavers and landscaping features will be installed to create a cureless center village plaza.
'It's going to be very European, very beautiful,' Burg said. The store owner said she noticed a similar streetscape design during a recent trip to Dublin.
'I was all excited,' she said.
Customers remain loyal
Burg, who has owned the local, independent book store now on State Street for more than 30 years, said business is down, but not as much as she predicted. With the help of loyal customers, her business will stay afloat during the construction, she said.
'There are people asking us, 'How are you doing? Are you holding on? Are you OK?'' Burg said.
And so far, customers are making a concerted effort to visit her store and purchase books, even if the walk to the storefront is longer than before construction began.
Executive Director of the Village Business Improvement District Jim Plaisted said there are many longtime area businesses that have worked to establish a strong customer base over the last 10 to 20 years.
'It varies with each storefront, but I think we're pleasantly surprised at the spirit of the businesses dealing with the construction,' he said, later adding: 'It really has been a fairly optimistic start to this project.'
Plaisted said, to his knowledge, no businesses have altered their hours to accommodate construction.
'They've realized the value of the work and what the final product is going to be,' he said of business owners. 'That final product is going to be one of a kind.'
David Jaeckels, a construction communication liaison with the city has said throughout the three-phase project State Street will be closed from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, but will reopen during evenings and weekends with a one-way, westbound-only lane.
To help draw in customers, the Village BID has launched a campaign to keep the area 'glowing' as work continues on the project. Signs with the slogan have been posted throughout the district.
'I think it's very creative and it's logical when you think about it,' Burg said of the campaign.
Plaisted said the Village BID will host two upcoming events to help highlight the district.
From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. July 9, contractors will be showcase bulldozers and other construction equipment for children and families to explore.
Another event, yet to be scheduled, will take place at a later date. To follow updates from the Village BID visit wauwatosavillage.org.