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Jackson street project: future help, present pain

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News,Business

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Work on a major thoroughfare in Jackson will improve its appearance, but it's providing a headache for area businesses.

Chuck Odom, of The Elite Restaurant on Capitol Street, says business at the landmark eatery has sharply declined since the Capital Street reconstruction project began.

The Clarion-Ledger reports (http://on.thec-l.com/1hT2ycP ) construction on Capitol Street in front of The Elite has reduced customer parking and made the front entrance of the restaurant a labyrinth of cones, dirt and uneven footing.

The Elite has been in Jackson since 1947 when Odom's wife's family opened it.

Ben Allen, president of Downtown Jackson Partners, continues to talk up the road project, which includes making busy Capitol Street a two-way road. He says the project is designed to make the Capitol Street area clean and safe, while making room for sidewalk cafes and pedestrian-friendly retail outlets.

But some business owners say they may not make it until the project's end.

Sam and Lamia Dabit own two retail stores — Lamia's Boutique and Fashion Corner — on Capitol Street and say the end is near for their businesses.

"I've been in downtown Jackson for 50 years, but this project has ruined our business," Sam Dabit says.

The Dabits say all their customers have vanished.

"We just don't see anyone anywhere around here these days," Lamia Dabit laments.

Allen stressed that he is aware of the financial burden that construction has placed on area businesses but reminds them that the construction will be a long-term benefit for not only for Capitol Street, but also for downtown Jackson as a whole.

"Two-waying Capitol Street is going to create a place that people want to be. Right now, Capitol Street is just a one-way means to getting out of downtown," Allen says.

Allen also points out other road projects in Jackson that failed to address underground issues before renovation. Streets like State Street and Meadowbrook Road have had recent roadwork done, only to see repeated repairs needed.

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Information from: The Clarion-Ledger, http://www.clarionledger.com

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