Business owners concerned about 2-year construction project along Bellaire Blvd.

September 20, 2012 4:18:56 PM PDT
The city Thursday broke ground on a brand new road construction project meant to improve the drive in southwest Houston. But it's going to take two years before it's finished. And that has some business owners on the stretch of Bellaire between the Tollway and Osage worried about their future.

The buzz of construction equipment hasn't quite reached the front doors of their salon, but Jessica Li and her husband, Eric Yuen, are worried.

"It's going to be a big mess. They don't want to come in. They don't want to spend time in traffic for half an hour to come into the shopping center," Yuen said.

The couple chose to open their small business at the busy Dan Huang Shopping Center precisely for its location along Bellaire Boulevard. But now they're concerned the two-year rebuilding project will devastate their salon.

"We put a lot of money in remodeling and we built a good business here, and we don't want business loss," said Li.

No one would argue that Bellaire Boulevard, the heart of Houston's bustling Asia town, needs a revamp. Thursday's long-awaited kickoff promises to bring better drainage, more traffic lanes, and a cohesive feel to the area. But even long-time neighborhood activist Peter Aquaro admits the process will be painful.

"One of the things I have to encourage our residents to do is just continue to be patient. It's been 30 years since we've had this opportunity to really start to revitalize," said Aquaro.

The Sharpstown Management District, the city, and local business groups promise frequent updates, clear construction signs, and other efforts to keep traffic moving.

For the hundreds of small businesses in the area, they just hope it will eventually pay off.

"In the short term, it might hurt the business a lot. But in the long term, it will give us a new look of Chinatown," said business owner Kimberly Lee.

That's certainly the hope here along Bellaire Boulevard.


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