City of Phoenix considering financial relief for businesses impacted by light rail extension

The City of Phoenix is considering giving grant money to businesses along the light rail construction corridor to help them stay afloat.

The area, located south of Downtown Phoenix, is at the front end of four years of construction to bring light rail trains to the area, but construction efforts are hurting businesses along the way.

While the grant would only entail about $1,000 to $5,000, city officials hope it’s a first step in bringing more financial aid to the area. However, two business owners in the area say they either don't believe it, or say the city can keep its money.

Orange barriers, construction equipment, and construction workers have taken over much of Central Avenue south of Downtown Phoenix, and traffic is down to two lanes.

Pete’s Fish and Chips is still dishing out its famous fare, but they are finding it harder to catch customers these days.

"It’s slow," said Byron Waldrep. "It’s crazy, it’s noisy, customers are having a hard time."

At Tony’s Window tinting down the street, owner Celia Contreras is throwing shade on the entire project. She thinks it simply clears the way for developers to make money, not her.

"Buildings with apartments and businesses on the bottom floor, the pedestrian businesses. This is the project," said Contreras, 

The city knows these businesses are hurting, and hopes financial aid will help them survive. The two-tier program would give $1,000 to small businesses that are locally owned and deal directly with customers, and up to $5,000 if they show lost revenue because of construction.

"So, I think everyone understands that this is something that’s good for the community, for the businesses, and we really hope it’s just the start of something. It will turn into something very great," said Markus Coleman with the City of Phoenix.

That all sounds good, but neither Contreras nor Waldrep are buying it.

"We don’t really want to take money from the government, even though it’s supposed to be free, but we’re gonna try to ride it out," said Waldrep.

The City Council will likely vote on the plan in a week, and could extend the program for the full four years, if the first year goes well.