Lurleen Wallace Construction Frutta Bowls

Over the past 10 months, all the detours on Lurleen Wallace Boulevard have caused a lot of struggle for local businesses in the area.

The road construction project began in July 2018, and is set to wrap up this December, but that may be too late for some of those businesses. But the city of Tuscaloosa wants to help.

Officials rolled out a Construction Mitigation Program in an effort to reduce negative economic impacts on businesses located in that construction area.

“It’s a bigger loss than most people notice,” said Josh Giambalvo, co-owner of Frutta Bowls. “So I think a lot of people see traffic and traffic is no fun to be in, but I don’t think people understand the magnitude of business loss.”

On Friday, business owners were invited to get information about CMP and talk to city officials about their options. Signage, parking assistance, promotions and temporary business license waivers are just a few things businesses can apply for within this program.

“The Office of Urban Development and the Office of the City Attorney have reviewed the best practices from across the country and the similar type programs,” said Brendan Moore, executive director of urban development. “Obviously we took components of those programs and customized them for our area, and then began engaging with business owners to see if this is something that they would be interested in. We got very positive feedback on it.”

But some business owners said they’re worried this may not be enough.

“I think it’s a very small drop in what has actually happened, and I think it’s a little late,” Giambalvo said. “I think it kinda stinks that we’re eight months into construction and now we’re talking about impact, but I’m thankful for the fact that they’re trying.”

Moore said this program is unique because it’s on a case by case basis.

“No two businesses are necessarily created the same, so what we are allowing for is for them to construct their own application that will give them the opportunity to justify the need and the request, and that could come through, for example sales tax, business licenses, ad valorem taxes, or any other potential revenue streams we may be able to help offset or provide temporary relief,” Moore said.

Giambalvo said hopefully that relief will come soon.

“We’re going to try to do advertising or parking, and again, kinda like I said before, we’re eight months into this thing,” Giambalvo said. “You know, when does this take place? Two more months? Three more months? So yeah, we’ll try to get as much help as possible because we need it.”

Any business owners who would like to fill out an application, or get more information about what help is available to them can go to City Hall, call 311 and ask for Brendan Moore, or visit their website here.

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