ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The holiday shopping season has come and gone, but the Albuquerque Rapid Transit project remains unfinished in Nob Hill.
This, despite the initial completion date of the ART bus route being set for before former Mayor Richard J. Berry left office last year, and before the 2017 Christmas rush.
Wednesday, KRQE News 13 set out to see how local businesses fared during the recent holiday shopping season. The responses were pretty mixed, but one thing the businesses could agree on was that they just want this seemingly never-ending project to wrap up so that the “new normal” can set in.
The application of Edward Pola and George Wyle’s iconic Christmas lyrics, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” depend on who you talk to in Nob Hill.
The orange cones and barrels of the ART project were taken down right before Thanksgiving, but ART is still nonoperational.
Business owners had varying takes on how the holidays shopping season panned out. At Izzy Martin Menswear, employee Sam Sapon said, “It went really well, sales have been up this year.”
Sapon credits loyal customers who didn’t change their routine based on construction or different traffic patterns.
“I definitely think that with ART’s completion, it will be better. It’s just kinda gonna be seeing what happens. I’m hoping that maybe we get some new people in here,” he said.
A few stores down, Debra Adler of Retail Therapy ABQ was nervous going in, but says the Christmas season ultimately felt like her “old store” again.
“Overall, I’d say it did really well,” she said.
She says it’s been a tough year for her and her neighbors, with ART creating a lot of pressure.
“I think a lot of business owners are at the end of their rope. They are truly… they can’t deal with this anymore,” Adler said.
A few shops, who asked not to be named, disclosed poor holiday sales. They all pointed to ART, voicing anger with the over-budget $134 million project.
In addition, not to be forgotten are the shops without a voice — the storefronts that shuttered long before even attempting to make a December profit.
The Nob Hill Main Street group said it would rather not comment on how local businesses did during the holidays until it has hard data, but also said ART has unquestionably impacted businesses.
KRQE News 13 called and emailed the City of Albuquerque Wednesday, asking for a projected completion date for ART, but did not get an answer. Construction began more than a year ago.