Help may be on the way for Henderson businesses struggling to stay afloat while the city redevelops Water Street.
Henderson officials met Monday and discussed emergency financial aid for some shops along downtown's original main drag.
The city's redevelopment department is proposing no-interest loans of up to $5,000 for business owners who have lost revenue because of extensive reconstruction that started last month and is expected to go into September. The loans could be paid back over 24 months, said Michelle Romero, Henderson's redevelopment manager.
Henderson Mayor Andy Hafen and redevelopment director Bob Cooper both favor some form of financial help.
"We are very empathetic about what the construction is doing to them," Cooper said. "We are discussing the idea of low-interest loans, and we started talking about grants."
Large piles of dirt, closed and torn-up streets and construction barriers are scaring off customers, downtown Henderson business owners say.
Construction of wider sidewalks and bus lanes is expected to continue through Sept. 16.
The Henderson City Council will probably vote on any financial assistance by early September, Cooper predicted. However, the increasingly dire state of downtown business has city officials trying to speed up that timetable, he said.
The construction has been tough on business owners such as Chere Pedersen of Chef Flemming's Bakery.
She says she hopes the shop can make it long enough to see the rebirth of Water Street.
Pedersen's family-owned shop, near the corner of Water and Victory streets, was closed for three days in late July while crews did concrete work, then received a notice saying Victory would be closed for about three days the next week.
"It will be really nice when it is finished," Pedersen said. "But I just don't know if I'll be around to see it."
Chef Flemming's Bakery averages about $600 in sales a day and makes as much as $2,000 on Saturdays. But on the final Saturday in July, after the concrete out front had cured and the bakery was able to reopen, the numbers were dismal -- just $400 in sales.
Patty Batwinas' family-owned Motor City Coney Island is a few doors down Water from the bakery. The Detroit-style hot dog eatery lost a lot of business from the construction, Batwinas said.
Batwinas' son, Manny Sanchez, said business has fallen about 20 percent since construction started and losses are in the thousands of dollars.
"It is bad all the way around," Batwinas said. "People don't want to deal with this."
The city of Henderson is in a tough spot. For years, business owners clamored for the improvements along north Water Street, but now they're upset that the construction is driving away customers.
Cooper said he understands the dilemma but sees no way to get around it.
"It's a fact of life, but we do try to mitigate it. ... We don't want to see businesses close," he said.
Hafen, too, said he will vote in favor of some kind of financial aid package for Water Street businesses damaged by redevelopment efforts.
"We want to do it as quickly as we can, because we knew (construction) would have an impact," the mayor said.
Contact reporter Valerie Miller at vmiller@ lvbusinesspress.com or 702-387-5286.