Colorado

Sep 25, 2013 9:16 PM by Andy Koen

Shop owners feel steam rolled by construction project

COLORADO SPRINGS - The dining room at the Borriello Brothers Pizza on South 8th Street looked like it could use a few more customers during Wednesday's lunch rush.

"I need to cut back on my staff," admitted business manager Chris Stein. "I'm overstaffed for what's going to come through today because our dining room is very, very empty."

Meanwhile the Slurpee machine and Big Bite rollers at the 7-Eleven next door are also getting an unexpected lunch break.

"During the daytime, my sales are cut in half," said 7-Eleven franchise owner Scott Wohlman. "People are just avoiding the area."

The reason for the drop off in business is plain to see. A repaving project on South 8th that started a few weeks ago is blocking traffic from accessing their property.

The business owners wouldn't mind so much if the city or the contractor would have simply told them ahead of time that they would be blocking their entrance.

"We found out about this, this actual shut down of our only ingress and egress, yesterday morning when they were putting the cones up," said Stein.

What's more, when they voiced concerns, the businessmen say they were threatened to keep quiet.

"The city representative told us well, we're not going to do it today, but we'll be back and we'll do it and here's the contractor and he's not going to be happy and this job could take up to 20 hours," Stein said.

"That's the point I asked him, I said you're standing here threatening the three of us and he said I'm not threatening you, I'm just telling you he's a contractor and this is what he does," Wohlman said.

Streets Division Manager Corey Farkas said those statements shouldn't have been made.

"No, never should have been said to the business owners. If it was at all and we find out about it, we're going to take corrective action," Farkas said.

Farkas suspects the man who urged the business owners to keep quiet may have been a third party consultant.

News 5 reviewed a copy of the contract and found Martin Marietta Materials agreed to give all property owners at least 48 hours notice of any construction that may affect access and or parking as part of their $2.54 million bid.

When we called Martin Marietta project manager Jeff Briscoe, he referred all questions to the city.

Farkas believes Martin Marietta Materials was in breach of contract for not notifying the business owners of the closure sooner.

"We're going to have to go back and sit down with the contractor and deal with them contractually with what we can do with liquidated damages."

The property owner, Bear Creek Shops LLC, paid $2,041 in property taxes to the City of Colorado Springs this year. Stein and Wohlman estimate they paid at least $2,700 between their two businesses last month in sales taxes.

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