San Antonio business owners share concern over VIA streetcar plans

Streetcar construction could disrupt businesses along route


On the 1500 block of Broadway, the city's future will intersect with its past and present.

That's one of many locations on the nearly 6-mile-long streetcar route approved by VIA Metropolitan Transit in September.

A San Antonio icon in business since 1921 -- the Pig Stand -- is located at 1508 Broadway.

Mary Ann Hill, owner of the decades-old restaurant, is wondering how the future construction of the public transit system will impact the future of her business.

"How long is it going to take? How long are we going to be in an area that's closed down?" she asked. "Who's going to be riding the streetcar? And am I going to get business from the streetcar?"

She worries that too much inconvenience will drive away customer.

"It's got to be a convenient way," Hill said. "If they're used to one way, and things change, it could be not so good for us."

Alamo Music Center, at the corner of North Main and Martin Street, will also be directly impacted by the construction.

The streetcar will run along Martin between Broadway and Frio Street.

"It is going to shut down the road for a while and we've had issues with VIA buses causing damage to the sidewalk and our basement is attached to the sidewalk," said Alamo Music Center General Manager Zach Marr. "It's mixed. We don't know how to feel about it. But if it's what they're selling, that's a good thing."

VIA will decide by the end of this year when and where construction will start, which is expected to be done in phases.

As details remain uncertain, the agency promises to work closely with the businesses impacted the most.

"There may even be things we can do in promoting their business during this time that you have construction," said Charlie Gonzalez, chief of public engagement for VIA.

"So the question is how you plan this out? How do you do it incrementally so you don't have a lot of construction for a prolonged period of time?" Gonzalez asked.

"That's what we're trying to do is keep this pig going, you know," Hill said.

Construction is set to begin in 2016, while the streetcar is expected to be operational in 2017.

For a list of recent stories Myra Arthur has done, click here.

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