Downtown business owners, eager to attract customers after a pair of intersection closures, are working together on promotional efforts.
Merchants and property owners in the 1500 block of State Street are eagerly counting down the days until Friday, Sept. 20.
That’s when a portion of the intersection of State Street and Lemon Avenue is scheduled to reopen and bring an end to 12 weeks of construction that cut off vehicular access to State Street from Main Street via Lemon Avenue.
Businesses on the street have done their best to make it through the street closure by posting signs around the construction zone to alert passersby that stores, restaurants and the State Street garage remain open. Still, those businesses see Friday’s intersection reopening as a milestone in the Lemon Avenue streetscape project — and they’re inviting the public to celebrate it with them.
“We’re basically taking a deep breath of gratefulness that the street’s finally going to be opened up on Friday,” said Chris Voelker, co-owner of State Street Eating House. “Everybody’s been hurt, so we’ve decided to band together, all of us, and do a little promotion.”
Participating merchants in the area will be distributing punch cards to visitors beginning Friday. The organizers of the promotion hope the punch cards will encourage people to check out different businesses. After earning a punch at each participating business, visitors can enter into a lottery for prizes such as lunch for two for a year at Brick’s Smoked Meats.
Kevin Enderle of Brick’s sees State Street as a premier destination within Sarasota and cites a confluence of factors that could draw people to the area: the variety of businesses, the convenience of the nearby parking garage, the forthcoming opening of The Mark development and the completion of the Lemon Avenue streetscape.
He’s excited by the ongoing collaboration among business owners and thinks the pain associated with construction will eventually become a distant memory.
“If everyone partners together and wants to make it the center of downtown, we can make it happen,” Enderle said.