Bleecker Businesses Say Subway Construction is a Summer Bummer

IMG_0375Marit Molin Sherwin Zabala stands in front of the construction that he says is hurting his Downtown Floor Supplies store on Lafayette Street.

Three business owners at the corner of Lafayette and Bleecker Streets say that construction on a new subway passage is warding off customers, leading to their revenue plummeting by as much as 50 percent. Workers for the Metropolitan Transit Authority have been busy since 2009, building a passageway between the uptown 6 train at Bleecker Street and the Broadway-Lafayette station. Unfortunately for the businesses at the entrance to the downtown 6 train, the latest phase of work, which according to an M.T.A. spokesman started four weeks ago, requires a construction zone that occupies parking spaces in the area and forms a barrier in front of the three store entrances.

“The construction has eliminated all the parking, so my customers go to my competitors instead,” said Mike Lieberman, owner of Kaufman Shoe Repair Supplies next door, adding that his business was down by 15 percent.

A business owner next door also lamented the construction.

“They moved my loading zone a block away and my products are heavy,” said Sherwin Zabala, manager of Downtown Floor Supplies on 338 Lafayette Street. “I rent out machinery that weighs 110 pounds and up. A block is a big deal.”

Mr. Zabala added that customers who pull over to load heavy equipment near his store get parking tickets in seconds.

Businesses hurt by ConstructionMarit Molin Construction on the new subway passage
obstructs entrances to the three businesses.

“The police don’t care about the circumstances and have no sympathy for our lack of parking,” Mr. Zabala said, noting that on the worst of days his business is down by 50 percent.

The M.T.A. spokesman said that the work won’t be completed until August 26, and that there is little the Authority can do for the owners besides keeping them informed of progress on the project.

In the meantime, the business owners struggle to reel in customers with all passersby flushed into the street and no parking nearby.

“Usually summer sales are up, but not this summer,” said Mostafa Benzaida, 41, the manager of M&D Shapiro Hardware at 63 Bleecker Street. “I wish there was something the M.T.A. could do to assist us.”