Businesses Feel Threatened by Construction Project

Topeka - It just started Monday and some business owners say they're already feeling the pinch of a construction project at 21st and Urish.

Crews putting a roundabout in at the intersection. If you want to get to the fire station and bank south of the intersection, you have to go down to 29th and come back north on Urish.

If you want to reach the businesses to the north, you're detoured to Huntoon.

Business owners in Urish Center say they want the city to allow bigger, better signs to let people know they can still get into the shopping center.

"What's gonna end up happening is you're gonna have about five businesses go bankrupt over this," said Aaron Koker, owner of Home Connections in the shopping center.

Judy Hafner's State Farm business is also located in the center. She said she normally has eight to 10 customers a day, but since the project started she has only gotten one or two.

Hafner said her business will certainly take a hit, but may survive the five to seven months of construction because it's been around more than a decade. She's not so confident some of her newer neighbors will make it. "My insurers will call me and say, 'How do I get in there?' But I'm not sure someone wanting a cup of coffee or sandwich from the cafe here would bother. They'll probably go somewhere else."

Koker says business owners in the complex aren't angry over the construction project itself, he said they just want to get help from the city in planning an easier method for motorists to get into the shopping center. "We're not upset about the progress," he said. "We're disappointed with the access."

When phase one of this project is complete, 21st will reopen and Urish will close. The roundabout is expected to be finished in November.


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