“The longer I stay the more deep I go into a financial crisis,” Gary Motiani, owner at Paradise Jewlers and Body Glove in St. Thomas said.
After 35 years on Main Street, Gary Motiani said he’s close to closing up.
“I have a store in Havensite that seems to be doing better than Main Street, obviously, because this is not a situation we are going through over there, but that’s not enough to support the loss of the business here,” Motiani said.
That situation is this an ongoing construction project called the Main Street Enhancement Project that shop owners here said is going on for too long and it’s keeping customers away.
“No one seems to know what is going on, everyone says the work will take a year, someone says the work will be done in a month, someone says it will be done four months all I feel is that whoever is responsible needs to come out and at least communicate with us exactly what their plans are,” Amit Khemani, owner at Beverlys and Caribana on Main Street said.
Manar Kthar, an employee at Alpha Jewelers said, “they’re hardworking, you got to give it to them being in the sun and working hard with the construction what I have noticed is project will start and not be finished and another one will be started so it becomes a little overwhelming.”
“We’re in full support of it, we just want work being done around the clock we want Main Street to be beautiful, we want it to be thriving down here a place full of good business but work just needs to be done more, just quicker. We love IRC we love what they’re doing but just a little quicker,” Mohit Vasandmalani, owner at Gold Mine and Crown Jewelers said.
When USVI News showed up Tuesday, IRC or Island Roads Construction had a team working on the sidewalk, but not much else. These blocks, shop owners said have been under construction for years, going back to 2015.
“We were even willing to close on days where there were no ships in town to give the workers more space and given that we have a bit of a narrow entrance that’s kind of our major concern we just want to make sure that work is done efficiently and that we can be ready for the high season,” Giresh Mirpuri, director at Ballerina Jewelers said.
USVI NEWs reached out to Island Roads Construction for a statement. Andy Smith spoke by phone with Kellie Meyer. He is the owner of Island Roads Construction. In response to Kellie’s story he says,
“I am totally aware of the frustrations of the business owners. We are doing the best we can. It is the most challenging job we had in the last 30 years,” Smith said.
“It is an extremely difficult and challenging job, these next four weeks we should see a turn around. They’ll see the difference. Because were doing the icing on the cake,” he added.
In response to the time it has been taking, Smith said, “it is a 18 month job and we are only 7 months into the 18 month job. They don’t see we are there at night. It is like one big archeological dig. We are on schedule.”
And Smith added there are monthly meetings at Public Works for updates on the project. USVI News will be checking on the next one.