Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Parking Deck Cave-In Hurts Business

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Parking Deck Cave-In Hurts Business

Article excerpt

HILLSDALE -- Business owners at 321 Broadway are seeing a downward spike in customers after getting clearance to reopen more than three weeks after a truck carrying asphalt crashed through the shopping center's parking lot.

On Oct. 3, a 35,000-pound dump truck plunged through an upper level of the retail complex's parking lot into an underground garage -- forcing the evacuation of the shops due to concerns over the building's structural integrity.

Shop owners at the strip mall said they were granted permission to reopen their stores after officials deemed the building to be safe for pedestrian traffic last week. However, with the upper level parking lot closed and in the midst of heavy construction, some proprietors said they are experiencing a drop in business.

"It's been tough, there is no doubt about it," said Larry Hage, owner of Stickey's BBQ. "We feel like a noose has been hung around our neck."

The damaged parking lot is surrounded by a large chain-link fence, leaving a narrow walkway for shoppers to reach the various establishments, including Stickey's, a dry-cleaner, a pizzeria, a children's birthday party shop and other businesses.

A large sign that reads "Open: Use Lower Level Parking" has been erected on the corner of the property and the town has allowed for street parking behind the strip mall. But Hage and other business owners said these efforts haven't been enough to bring their shops back to normal.

Hage said Stickey's has seen a 70 percent drop in business after the crash -- which he attributes to the fence around the upper parking lot and customers thinking the stores are still closed.

"We are a sit-down restaurant, but pickup and takeout are big for us," Hage said. "I wouldn't tell anyone to go park across the street and walk across with their families, though. That's not safe. …

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