Carbondale businesses comment on downtown improvement project

Carbondale downtown revitalization plan

CARBONDALE, IL (KFVS) - The Carbondale City Hall has started Phase 2 of the Illinois Avenue Streetscape Improvements Project and it's impacting local businesses in more ways than one.

One of the managers at Phoenix Cycles, Mike DePalma, describes what a normal day looks like his business on the corner of S. Illinois Ave and E. Walnut Street, "They tore the sidewalk in front of the store…and they are putting in a wider sidewalk with flower planters and trees and a ledge."

His business is one of many impacted by construction designed to change the face of downtown Carbondale. DePalma said despite the construction, they are in favor of the beautification. "No, we fully support it…yeah it's a little inconvenient for us….and there are minor frustrations, but overall, if you look down the strip where it's already completed it looks amazing," he said.

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Carbondale City Engineer Sean Pickford explained the purpose of the project, "The intent of this project is to help stimulate business in the downtown area and beautify downtown area and make it more inviting. Bring in people from the outside of the city and spend money in our businesses and enjoy their time within the city."

The contractor is removing the existing sidewalk and steps. Explore Carbondale suggests visitors to avoid those areas as much as possible for safety. In addition, parking will not be available along Illinois Avenue during contractor working hours.

A temporary walkway will be in place until the new sidewalk is constructed. Visitors are encouraged to use the west entrance of City Hall.

Carson Cates, the local restaurant Cristaudo's manager, said she is cautiously optimistic, "Right now, it hasn't impacted us terribly bad because it's across the street." "I think that the tax increase has been fairly negative but hopefully it looks better, people would want to hang out here more."

According to city officials, this project was made possible by the 2% food and beverage tax.

DePalma concluded, "We are a college town and you need to have something that you are proud of….and that's what this strip is…so to give it a facelift…and have it look a little bit better that's essential.."

The city engineer said this Phase 2 construction will add a public art plaza and they are set to be complete by August 10.

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