Businesses struggle during sidewalk renovations near Waterbury’s Palace Theater

WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH)–Shop owners have been putting up with a closed sidewalk on East Main Street in downtown Waterbury for over a year, but now they want to know how much longer the construction will last.

“The issue right now is money,” said Tony Bonacassio, who owns the Marquee Cafe. “We need that back open as soon as possible.”

Sitting right next to the glowing marquee of the Palace Theater in Waterbury is the Marquee Cafe. Bonacassio’s businees is struggling as the sidewalk has been closed for over a year.

“It’s hard. We’re not making any money,” Bonacassio said. “We’re paying our bills. That’s it.”

Relying heavily on foot traffic during the busy theater season, he said revenue before and after a show is down 75 percent. He blames it on construction of the building next door.

The Waterbury Development Corporation is overseeing an $8 million development that will eventually be used by the UConn Waterbury campus. Construction has closed the sidewalk and shifted vehicle traffic on East Main, diverting people — and potential customers — away from the Marquee.

“We’re concerned about it. We’re trying to get this done as swiftly as possible,” said Joe Geary, Waterbury chief of staff. “But as we all know with construction sometimes comes some issues.”

Bonacassio has remained steadfast through it all. But he hopes he can also say the same for his livelihood.

“We understand it’s a big job and it’s going to take a long time,” Bonacassio said. “But all we’re asking is that the sidewalk to get back open for pedestrians to come through.”

City officials put the final estimates on when construction will wrap in August or September of this year.

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