Businesses thrive on Green Line

Stadium Village stores along the route are performing well after construction challenged some local businesses.

Abdul's Afandy sits on Washington Avenue along the Green Line on Saturday, September 5. The store, a three-person run family business, was hurt by the 2013 light rail construction.

Alex Tuthill-Preus

Abdul’s Afandy sits on Washington Avenue along the Green Line on Saturday, September 5. The store, a three-person run family business, was hurt by the 2013 light rail construction.

Sadman Rahman

Despite a loss in sales for many businesses dealing with construction along the Green Line light rail , a new report showed Stadium Village businesses did better than most.

In a report released by the Business Resources Collaborative late last month , researchers found Stadium Village businesses along the Green Line earned higher profits and sales after the light rail began service, in contrast to their Saint Paul counterparts. Still, some in the area say their businesses suffered.

The Business Resources Collaborative formed in 2009  between the St. Paul mayor’s office, the Metropolitan Council and nonprofits along the Green Line in an effort to support businesses along the line, said Chris Ferguson , who serves as the collaborative’s chair and a Stadium Village Business Association member.

Ferguson said Stadium Village businesses may have caught a break because of the area’s heavy pedestrian circulation.

He said Minneapolis’ Great Streets program, which provides grant assistance for the city’s business areas, also provided funding to area ventures to help keep them afloat in a slim market.

Businesses that could prove substantial profit losses were eligible for the program, said research scientist at the Amherst H. Wilder  Foundation and report contributor Brian Pittman. Of those eligible, about 20 percent decided not to apply for assistance, he said.

Some businesses suffered because of their location along the corridor, Ferguson said.

“If you’re halfway between two stations, it’s not a great spot to be,” Ferguson said. “You’d much rather be near a station, from a traffic perspective.”

Despite losses and businesses shutting down, additional traffic from the light rail helped create a net increase of 13 businesses, according to the report.

 “You have a lot of good business owners here that know what it takes to survive and be successful,” he said, adding that his own business — the Dairy Queen  on Washington Avenue Southeast — handed out extra coupons and special deals to attract customers in tough times.

But Abdul’s Afandy, a small convenience store turned Middle Eastern restaurant on Washington Avenue, took losses during the rail’s construction.

“We were hurt,” manager Victor Giovanni said. “We had a closed door, pretty much.”

During the construction, the sidewalk outside their door was closed for a period of time, Giovanni said, which decreased foot traffic outside their door.

To stay in business, Abdul’s started a catering service and took money from salaries, he said.

The business did not apply for a grant, Giovanni said, because it wasn’t aware that was an option.

Nonetheless, prospects are looking up for the restaurant.

“Business has improved a lot since construction ended,” Giovanni said. “We stay really busy.”