Streetcar construction threatens to derail coffee shop

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Streetcar construction threatens to derail coffee shop

CREATED Sep 27, 2012 - UPDATED: Sep 28, 2012

Reporter: Marcelino Benito

Web Producer: Mekita Rivas

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - There's nothing like the fast pace of a cool coffee shop. It's what Epic Cafe used to be like, but now something could cause the coffee to stop pouring and come to a drip.

"People are hurting (and) they're shutting the doors," said councilman Steve Kozachik.

Epic Cafe's problem is right outside the storefront -- torn up streets and construction at a standstill. It said work hasn't been done in weeks, so 9OYS asked streetcar project officials if the city is making progress. 

"Absolutely," said Jesse Gutierrez, construction project manager. "Every day work is happening. We've installed water lines, sewer lines. Every single day there is activity."

But at 3 p.m. on Thursday near the corner of University and Fourth Avenue, there wasn't much activity happening, at least not while 9OYS cameras were there.

"This is the middle of the afternoon and there's nothing going on," Kozachik said. "The city has to do a better job of doubling up shifts if that's what it takes."

Epic Cafe is losing $600 a day. If work is not done by October 10, the coffee shop will have lost more than $100,000. It's the business hit hardest along Fourth Avenue.

"They're not just businesses," said John Sedwick, president of the Fourth Avenue Merchants Association. "There are families, there are kids, there are a lot of people that depend on these merchants."

9OYS asked Gutierrez if the public has to accept that some businesses will survive construction and others wont.

"I don't like to accept that," Gutierrez said. "I want to resist saying it's ok for any business to close. That's not our intention. We work hard to do all we can for these businesses."

But unless those fences come down soon, Epic Cafe could become the first street car casualty on Fourth Avenue. 9OYS asked Sedwick if he feels the city has done everything right to help businesses during construction.

"No, it absolutely hasn't," Sedwick said. "We've been guinea pigs to an extent."

Project leaders did meet with Kozachik's staff Thursday afternoon to discuss what more can be done to help struggling businesses like the Epic Cafe. Businesses along Fourth Avenue have dealt with financial hits that range anywhere from 20 to 40 percent.

Stay with KGUN 9 for updates on Modern Streetcar progress.