Customers are few and far between in Henderson but shop owners remain positive. By Joanna Davies
The main street of Henderson is not as busy as it used to be. At lunchtime, the cafes are almost empty and most of the people walking along Great North Rd head straight to the shopping mall.
Businesses took a hit last year when the footpaths on the main street were dug up and repaved.
The work lasted for five months, instead of the scheduled three, and drove customers to to New Lynn and Westgate.
But shopkeepers insist that business is improving.
``Business has picked up,' says Hiki Seumanutafa, who works at the Turnaround op-shop, ``but whether that is because of the street upgrades being finished I'm not so sure'.
Mrs Seumanutafa's concern now is the next main street project.
Waitakere City Council is upgrading the Oratia Stream bridge in its art bridge scheme. The bridge links the town centre to the Edmonton Rd intersection.
``We're concerned because the people that park their cars on Edsel St will walk around the mall rather than coming through the town centre, and we could lose a lot of foot traffic,' says Mrs Seumanutafas.
Vinesh Meanger, at West City Shoes, believes his business won't be affected by work on the bridge: ``It's a bit further up the road, so we should be fine. Some of the other shops might lose some business, but we have built up a good client base,' he says. ``Even when the streets were being paved we only had a couple of quiet weeks.'
The bridge, redesigned by local jeweller Jason Hall, will feature vertical columns that represent markers used by many cultures use to designate their property.
Henderson Community Board chairwoman Elizabeth Grimmer says that to keep disruption to a minimum, only one side of the bridge will be closed at a time.
``When I heard it was starting, I thought, `Here we go again'.'
But the contractors will only close the bridge completely for two days and, for the rest of the time, only one lane will be closed.
``It's going to give Henderson a beautiful entranceway,' she says.
The council's public affairs mana ger, Glyn Walters, says most of the work will take place in the winter months of June and July when the impact on business and traffic flow is expected to be minimal.
``The only time contractors will need to close both traffic lanes is towards the end of the project when the specially designed light poles are lifted into place.'
Mr Walters says the council is working with Henderson businesses to determine the best time to carry out the final stage of the work. joanna.davies@theaucklander.co.nz 28 05 2009