Businesses to receive more aid during LRT construction

John Hageman

Along University Avenue, signs reading “Yes, we ARE in business” populate storefront windows as construction of the Central Corridor light rail line creates havoc for vehicle traffic.

And after protests from business owners along the corridor and a court order to further explore how businesses will be impacted, project funding partners are set to give more aid. 

The project funding partners, which includes the Metropolitan Council and the cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis, announced Wednesday their plans to give an additional $3.3 million in aid to businesses, bringing the total up to $11.1 million. That figure includes $6 million in forgivable loans.

“We’ve heard their voices,” Met Council Chair Susan Haigh said of business owners in a release. “They’re valued members of the community and the funding partners want to lend financial support. We also want to get the word out that businesses in the Central Corridor are open for business during construction.”

The main complaints among business owners along the corridor is that the project planners didn’t anticipate how they would cope with the loss of on-street parking. The City of St. Paul authorized $2.1 million in 2010 to provide forgivable loans for improvements to off-street parking along University Avenue. 

But some business owners complained that wasn’t enough to help a majority of stores. 

Construction and permanent closure of a large portion of Washington Avenue will begin once classes at the University of Minnesota end in mid-May.