"There were more empty storefronts in previous years and the sidewalks and the landscaping was just dated, it was old, so that was the real driving force behind getting it cleaned up and made new," he said.
While there is some minimal disruption during the construct, he said the project was broken into phases to help minimize the affect. He said about 20 businesses would be affected by the final phase, along with some improvements to residential areas along Lakewood Avenue.
"The newer section has a nice new feel and vibe to it," he said. "A big draw these days is for people to see a little bit of flash and beauty when they walk into a place."
To implement the diagonal parking, which Gillen said was to improve vehicle and traffic safety, the city needed to acquire property from business owners. Two business, Head to Tail and Domani Spa, agree to sell a portion of their property to the city, but one property owner is holding back.
During an Upper Union Street BID board meeting on Dec. 1, the group unanimously passed a resolution "to support any action by the City necessary to assure that Phase III of the Upper Union Streetscape Project proceeds in 2011."
If negotiations can't be completed, officials said the city might try to acquire the property through the eminent domain process, which can be used to obtain property for road improvement projects. Other stated alternatives are to place a curb along the entire block, resulting in less parking, or leaving this area out of the streetscape project.
"The BID board agrees fully with the plan to the parking design as it was originally done three years ago," said DiCocco. "For safety concerns, people going in and out of that parking area right now is very dangerous for both pedestrians walking on the sidewalk and the cars backing out to a pretty busy intersection."