For more than five weeks, the construction project has blocked car traffic on the first block of Free Street and access to several businesses.
PORTLAND, Maine — Gracelyn Kilpatrick is shutting down her business, G’s Boatique, just four days shy of her shop’s one-year anniversary.
“It’s really heartbreaking, because this was my dream,” she said.
Kilpatrick isn’t closing because she wants to. She shared her financial records with NEWSCENTER Maine, and they show a sharp decline in revenue compared to April.
“As soon as that road construction started, my sales went down 98 percent, so I have had 2 percent of the sales I normally had,” Kilpatrick said.
She’s talking about the Congress Square project, a multiyear construction project to revitalize the five-way intersection at High, Congress, and Free streets.
The current phase of the project, slated to last through June, blocks car traffic from the first block of Free Street, and business owners say it’s limiting visitors.
“There were days that I was sitting here with no customers coming in here. … You could shoot a horror movie down here; it’s just so sad,” Kilpatrick said.
Next door at Needfire Apothecary, Minta Carlson said her revenue is down more than 70 percent this month. She said no one told her the project was scheduled.
“No one told us about this. … We had no warning,” Carlson said. “We found out about it when the streets were shut down.”
City officials said the closure of the first block of Free Street is temporary and should be open in June.
“Any time we do a construction project, there are going to be impacts,” Jessica Grondin, a spokesperson with the city of Portland, said. “Our public works has agreed to do better in the future, knowing this project is a big one in terms of impacts.”
But for now, Kilpatrick said the financial losses from the project were just too much to handle.
She will be open at G’s Boatique Thursday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. each of those days. Everything will be 30 percent off.