St. Mary’s Strip businesses must compete for city funding to recoup lost profits

COVID-19 losses, construction could be downfall for many even amid financial assistance

SAN ANTONIO – A one-two punch of COVID-19 and construction could be the fall of several small businesses. San Antonio is now providing financial aid in the form of the COVID-Construction Recovery Grant Program.

San Antonio City Manager Erik Walsh approved allocating $2.25 million of federal American Rescue Plan Act funds for direct grants. Businesses who qualify can get a maximum of $35,000. Businesses in 15 construction corridors are eligible to apply.

“It’s not enough to make everyone whole. My goal is, let’s make sure nobody goes out of business,” District 1 Councilman Mario Bravo said.

Bravo has two of the construction corridors in his district. He said unfortunately, the resources being made available are limited.

“It’s going to be a competitive process and the idea is going to be to structure it in a way where whoever needs the most help will get the most help,” Bravo said.

Bravo says the plan is to start the application process in February and start sending money in April. A month before, in March, two-way traffic is expected to be open on the St. Mary’s strip. Businesses however, say they won’t make it that long.

Covid construction recovery grant program by “We’re at the end, we’re at minutes now, I’m scared,” Tammy Russell, owner of Candlelight Pourhouse, said.

Candlelight Pourhouse is located off the North St. Mary’s Strip. It’s only open 3 days a week, a decision that was made to save money to keep them afloat. Russell said they went from $40,000 to $50,000 a month in revenue to $12,000 in December.

“Well, we survived COVID, but we’re getting killed by construction,” Russell said.

“We’ve already let 20-23 people go just since the construction, this is all post-COVID,” Ken Sheppard, a shareholder of Candlelight Pourhouse said.

And they’re not alone. Their neighbor Amici Hair Salon is down 40%. Owner of the salon Linda Pena Eason said stylist are having to find other places to work.

“I’ve been relying solely on their rent, so I don’t know exactly how much each one of my rentals has lost. It’s tough and it feels selfish,” Pena Eason said.

Bravo said he is pushing for an expedited timeline to help those in need. He urges any business owner with concerns to reach out to their councilperson sooner rather than later. He said that also goes for how and when to apply, since money set aside likely won’t cover every business that qualifies for assistance.

About the Author

John Paul Barajas is a reporter at KSAT 12. Previously, he worked at KRGV 5 in the Rio Grande Valley. He has a degree from the University of Houston. In his free time, he likes to get a workout in, spend time on the water and check out good eats and drinks.

Recommended Videos