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Charleston Boulevard construction slowing small businesses down

Updated February 28, 2024 - 6:53 pm

An 18-month construction project in central Las Vegas is squeezing some local businesses.

Starburst Parlor owner Jill Shlesinger said her keto bakery is suffering from the lack of easy access and drive-by traffic lost because of a road improvement project on stretches of Charleston Boulevard and Rancho Drive. Las Vegas Paving crews began work on the $38.5 million road widening and other infrastructure improvements in March 2023 and are expected to complete it this fall.

But the loss of about two traffic lanes bordering a business plaza at that intersection has affected Shlesinger’s bottom line.

“We walk the line all the time because our overhead costs so much, and when regulars don’t want to come in because of the situation outside, every person that doesn’t come in impacts us,” she said.

Shlesinger and other tenants in the plaza say they were well notified of the project plans and look forward to the complete project for its benefit to the Las Vegas Medical District. A path connects traffic to the plaza’s ingress with a “business access” sign, but still she said some days are bringing in about half the revenue generated pre-project.

Other owners say they have seen some hits but can rely on other locations of their business to keep afloat until the project’s completion. Rock and Vape shop owner Maritsa Leyva said she and her husband run the shop and another at Sahara Avenue and Rainbow Boulevard, where loyal customers are heading instead.

She still gets some tourists looking for specific products, but otherwise business has slowed to a handful of customers daily, she said.

“I do have people I haven’t seen for a while, and they say they have trouble getting here,” she said. “If we didn’t have the other location, we’d be done.”

Daniel Coughlin, owner of Le Thai, said the eatery’s second location in the plaza is keeping afloat because of its business model as a take-out spot. Many customers in the medical district now walk to pick up their orders and other third-party food delivery apps commit the courier to the sale.

Sometimes Le Thai staffers have to bring the order out to the car or direct the food runners over the phone on how to get into the parking lot on nearby Rancho Lane.

“It’s crazy,” Coughlin said of the construction outside his business, “but I also see the big picture so I was mentally prepared for it.”

McKenna Ross is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Contact her at mross@reviewjournal.com. Follow @mckenna_ross_ on X.

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