SAN ANTONIO – Ongoing construction on St. Mary’s Strip is driving customers away and business owners say they don’t know how long they can continue to operate in current conditions.
Frustrations boil over for business owners and employees on the Strip. According to Squeezebox owner Aaron Peña, nightlife has disappeared as people don’t deal with the headaches of traffic.
“We saw $67 in sales for a day on a weekend day. Down the street at Rumble, they had an $11 Wednesday,” Peña said. “Not even during COVID when I was forcibly closed and I was only doing drive-thru service – I’ve been able to support more staff than I’m currently able to.”
Peña said people are unable to navigate the road due to road closures and diversions. He added that the construction is pushing businesses to a breaking point, with employees looking for other jobs.
“I started making a certain amount of money here and it’s gone down more than 60%,” said Alexis Rodriguez, a bartender at Slackers.
Peña added, “I think a lot of bars, including myself, and restaurants — any nightlife, any hospitality that’s on this street — aren’t going to make it through this year.”
Trying to get around on foot is just as difficult when finding parking. Large parts of the strip have no sidewalks, and people walking on dirt and gravel can easily access the site. Those who work on the Strip worry that safety isn’t a priority for the city.
“Nails and walking on boards, and people can get hurt and they don’t care,” Rodriguez said.
San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg told KSAT during the 6 p.m. question and answer session Tuesday that the project is being expedited. He hopes construction will be complete by March 2023.
“We’re putting pressure on the contractor to do this work,” Nirenberg said. “They went through COVID. You’ve been through, you know, political wrangling. You went through a lot of things that were challenging.”
San Antonio District 1 City Councilman Mario Bravo said he agrees with business owners and residents that more needs to be done. He walked the Strip Tuesday afternoon and saw the problem first-hand.
Bravo said he wants to explore possible financial support for affected companies.
“I spoke to the City Manager and the Mayor about this yesterday and they are looking at solutions right now. And I hope to hear from them in the next week or two,” Bravo said.
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