Merchants worry LBJ work will detour holiday shoppers

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by MONIKA DIAZ

WFAA

Posted on November 12, 2012 at 12:26 AM

Updated Monday, Nov 12 at 12:29 AM

DALLAS — The year's biggest shopping season is almost here, but along the LBJ Freeway corridor, construction might be the Grinch stealing holiday business.

"When I first leased here, it was a welcome site, all the cars and noise," said Lori Huey, owner of Estate Classics. "Now, they [drivers] avoid this area like the plague."

Huey fears her business might not survive the season. Her luxury resale store at the Preston Valley shopping center sits in the middle of construction chaos. Crews are working on the frontage roads, the highway, and Preston Road.

"Just Preston Road down, I can deal with that," Huey said. "Just LBJ down, I can deal with. But both of them? It makes it very difficult to stay in business."

Huey told News 8 that weekly traffic at her store has dropped at least 50 percent. Some of her retail neighbors are feeling the financial hit as well. The center's empty parking lot is a common sight on some days.

"It's a painful process right now," said Andy Rittler, spokesman for the LBJ Express Project.

Rittler said crews will be scaling back the 24/7 construction operation around Thanksgiving to help boost sales along the freeway.

"The reason we do is because we want consumers and commuters to visit these businesses and shop at these businesses and utilize the services they have to offer," Rittler said.

Huey hopes shoppers take a chance and support the 6,700 businesses along LBJ Freeway.

"Please come," she said. "Show up before Christmas — that will make a big difference."

The LBJ Express Project is holding a holiday mixer Friday night for businesses owners. It's a chance to network and meet project leaders.

E-mail mdiaz@wfaa.com

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