One-lane roads and sidewalk closures are prompting some drivers and students to avoid the North Campus area during construction on the residence halls, leaving some local business managers unahppy.
Mike Sanda, manager of Noodles and Company located at 2124 N. High St., said in years before the construction started, business would boom when students returned to campus in the fall. This year, however, things are drastically different.
“Rather than a 100 percent increase, it has only been a 75 percent increase in sales since the start of school,” he said.
Many businesses see an increase on Ohio State football gamedays, as students walk and meet friends before attending the game, he said, but this year hasn’t followed suit.
“Sidewalk congestion and dust circling around outside tables prompt many students to take alternative routes to the Horseshoe,” he said.
There are three major ongoing projects in the North Campus area.
The North Residential District Transformation is a $370 million renovation to the North Campus District that plans to add 3,200 additional student beds through the construction of 11 new buildings, which are expected to be ready for move-in fall 2016, in time for the start of OSU’s planned second-year live-on requirement. This project has caused closures on eastbound Lane Avenue and southbound High Street, along with various sidewalk closures, which are projected to through early 2016, according to an OSU construction website.
The second project is the $66.8 million East Regional Chilled Water Plant, which will provide chilled water to the Academic Core North buildings when completed. The project is slated for a December completion, Administration and Planning spokesman Dan Hedman said in an email.
And the $3.9 million High Street Landscaping Project is set to be completed by November, Hedman said. This project aims to improve the north-south connection for pedestrians, contributing to a connection between the three main points along High Street which include South Campus Gateway at 10th Avenue and High Street to the South, the North Residential District at Lane Avenue and North High Street to the north, and the Arts District at the Historic Entrance to campus at 15th Avenue and North High Street. Closures around 18th Avenue are set to end around October, the website said.
To accommodate construction trucks coming and going, sidewalks and streets have been periodically closed off to walkers and traffic between Lane and 17th avenues since students moved back in late August.
The city also closed meters so cars would not park on East 18th Avenue because trucks had to park there, manager of Buckeye Donuts Pete Barouxis said. Buckeye Donuts is located at 1998 N. High St.
“When the construction cranes moved in, it was a big shock to my business. With the congestion and closed down sidewalks, clientele would not stop in,” he said.
Barouxis also said when the construction process was at its peak intervals, a full-time police officer would stand in front of his business in the street and direct traffic.
“This became a hassle for customers trying to stop in and it also hurt the visual appearance of the outside of my business so people just refused to come by,” he said.
Sanda said Noodles and Company is offering incentives to students in effort to attract more revenue.
“We are encouraging OSU groups and organizations to come in and enjoy a free meal,” Sanda said. “With this marketing strategy, we hope they (the students) try something new every week, have a good experience with our company and, in turn, bring in their friends.”
And other business managers said they recognize once the construction is completed, it might be all worth it.
Rodney Martin, manager of Moe’s Southwest Grill, located at 2040 N. High St., said with more students living on North Campus come 2016 and on High Street after new apartments open soon, business and revenue will likely increase.
“There will be new apartments beside me, so this will help build up my clientele,” Martin said. Those apartments — The View on High — are set to be open in January.
In the meantime, businesses face three options with respect to the construction happening around them, said Mark Partridge, a professor in the Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics Department . He said they can stay open and cut back on workers, they can chose to market themselves in a way to draw clientele in and if they are losing more money staying open than they would to close, they could close for the duration of the construction period.
“They are facing some difficult decisions,” he said.
Some students said they’ve also noticed that things are different from how they normally are in the off-campus area.
“The construction has closed off the sidewalks near my classes and I do not feel as safe having to walk on the street,” said Emily Maneval, a first-year in biology.