Lifestyles, Local

Construction blocks downtown business

Siloam Springs announced on Facebook that construction would take place on Broadway Street downtown to re-stripe parking spots, add crosswalk bump-outs and improve intersections.

This construction is a part of the Siloam Springs Downtown and Connectivity Master Plan. The plan states that the purpose of all of this construction is to preserve and improve the downtown environment through the addition of infrastructure and facility planning. The master plan also lays out the obective of the plan, which is to “ultimately realize a more vibrant urban core” within Siloam Springs.

Shari Devor, owner of local antique store 2 Gals Junk, said that the city included business owners in early discussions about the road work in order to prepare them for what was to come. “The city talked with us for a couple years and had numerous meetings explaining what the plan was over time. They sent someone by with diagrams before work started,” Devor said.

Holland Hayden, Communications Officer for the City of Siloam Springs said, “Staff met with business owner’s multiple times before the project commenced to explain the construction timeline, traffic flow and potential impediments to downtown. The timing of the project was carefully chosen as well. Historically, winter months tend to be slower for retail businesses.”

The construction has caused sections of Broadway Street to be closed off over the past few months, which has limited access to local businesses downtown. Devor says business is down because her store is not easily accessible anymore.

While the one way traffic signs and constant noise may have turned off a few customers, the timing of the construction was intentional.

Robin Stewart, owner of Bathetopia Bath Boutique, commented on the decrease in customers. “It has been a bit slower than usual,” Stewart noted, “but for retail, Jan., Feb. and March are our slowest months. People are recouping from Christmas. I feel that this was the best time to do the construction knowing it would be my slowest time of year.”

Stewart chose to use this construction down time in a productive way. “I just took advantage of my slow days to re-organize my store, come up with new products and new ideas for Bathetopia.”

The City of Siloam Springs is making efforts to help businesses on Broadway stay busy regardless of the ever-changing detours and traffic cones. According to Main Street Siloam’s website, the city and Main Street Siloam are “working through the Chamber of Commerce and Main Street Siloam Springs to communicate with business owners about traffic and parking.”

“We continue to promote downtown through our social media platforms and website,” the Main Street website stated. “An announcement bar runs across each page on the website summarizing the construction. There have been at least two stories in the Siloam Springs Herald Leader regarding the project.”

Although the construction may be having negative effects on small businesses on Broadway Street in the present, it hasn’t hindered the Main Street Siloam events such as Girls’ Night Out and the upcoming Big Event.

Stewart is excited for the new and improved future of downtown. “I’m excited about the new construction and I can’t wait to see outcome. I’m sure it has detoured folks from coming downtown, but we will all get to enjoy the outcome soon! I choose to be positive about it!”

Hayden said that the construction should be finished before the Dogwood Festival which starts April 27. This event  will feature many different vendors and the promotion of the multiple small businesses on Broadway Street and beyond in downtown Siloam.