West Union Street is back and rebuilt nearly three years after a fire broke out, destroying and damaging businesses along the street.
Guy Phillips, managing partner at Athens Housing HotLink, which owns the empty building, said that he may have a prospective business to fill the empty building, which is near the Ohio University Credit Union.
“I’ve got a business that’s interested in us, (but) nothing has been finalized as of yet,” Phillips said. “They will want to make their announcement when it’s finalized. It’s a business I’ve heard a lot of people asking for, so I think it will be good.”
A prospective tenant backed out earlier this year, which caused a delay in filling the empty space, according to a previous Post report.
Phillips also said there is an empty space leading to the elevator in one of the buildings, which he hopes to add a small business to, such as a tarot card reader on weekends.
“I thought it would be a fun business for someone to have on the weekends,” Phillips said.
Businesses on West Union Street are now starting to regain popularity and traffic throughout the street.
Mary Cheadle, owner of Uptown Dog T-shirts and 10 West Clothing Company, said she has already seen an increase in sales from the time construction was happening on the street.
“We’re noticing that we’re not only getting our traffic back of students making it their route to get to class, but additionally, people … are taking advantage of enjoying the benches out there and the beauty of it all,” Cheadle said.
The construction took nearly three years to complete, and Cheadle said she lost a lot of business and profits due to the reconstruction of the surrounding buildings and sidewalk repairs.
“Being on a street with construction for three years was incredibly damaging for sales,” Cheadle said. “It’s those things you can’t foresee. When they shut this down, Uptown Dog found a new location, but what we hadn’t anticipated was those almost three years of having really affected our sales.”
Cheadle said that near the end of the construction, fences covered Uptown Dog and 10 West, which made it difficult to attract customers.
“That was a hard time to get through because you just completely lose those sales,” Cheadle said. “There’s no coming back. We just hope we will get more people back here, and additional people.”
Kaylee Perkins, manager at Uptown Grill, said unlike Cheadle, the street closings hardly affected her sales.
“It didn’t affect it at all,” Perkins said. “Our business has been picking up slowly every year since I’ve worked here. It didn’t affect our numbers, but it did affect the way that people would come. We’d have a lot more people toward dinner time, then a lot more people toward bar closing instead of it being a little more drawn out.”
Perkins said she’s relieved the construction is over and glad to see more movement throughout the street.
“Now it’s nice,” Perkins said. “It’s nice to have places to park. Business is better this year than it ever has been, which is awesome.”
Abigail Swintek, Cheadle's daughter who is a junior studying communication, has worked at Uptown Dog for three years and said it has been nice to see an increase in traffic on West Union Street.
“It’s nice to just see the city give this section that we’ve always known a little bit of attention,” Swintek said. “It makes us feel like it is important because for a long time I’ve felt like this is one of the streets that no one ever knew about. It’s really nice to see people over here now like it’s part of the main strip.”