Royal Oak business owners express woes over construction and lack of parking

Posted at 5:52 PM, Jul 09, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-09 19:47:59-04

The sudden closure of Andiamo in Royal Oak has brought to light tensions between the city and other business owners who say they are frustrated by how the construction projects are being executed. 

Owners are saying a lack of parking and excessive enforcement is making it difficult for businesses to survive the construction. 

According to the city, they've added a number of parking solutions to help local businesses stay in operation through construction and many owners are trying to focus on the positive. 

"Businesses won’t be able to survive if we don’t get the traffic flow," said Daniel Davis, owner of Funky 7 on Main Street in Royal Oak. "Everybody wants to park next to the businesses and you take that away and people are going to go elsewhere."

New construction east of Main Street promises a beautiful future for downtown Royal Oak, but until then, business owners are having to make due. 

"We have clients that will no longer come down here anymore," said Greg Stanalajczo, owner of the Sullivan building. "They do not have time in their day to find parking get to our building and find their car to drive back to their offices."

The city recently opened a 7 story parking structure on Center street. At the structure, the first two hours of parking are free before 5 p.m., but Stanalajczo says it doesn't help his employees. 

"If you call park right and try to buy monthly employee parking passes you will be told there are none available," he said. 

And the structure isn't as helpful as Laura Harrison, a recently retired business owner, had hoped. 

She said that she can't find handicap parking. 

"The new parking structure was supposed to have ground level handicap parking that you could just park in the structure and just walk across the street it’s not there," she said. 

the city says that there are a total of 11 handicap spaces in the structure, most are on other floors all near the elevator. They've also added four public handicap spaces behind city hall until the new city center complex is complete. 

But at Mr. B's, they're looking beyond the current parking struggles. 

"We’re very optimistic we’re doing the opposite of what Joes is doing because I’m investing," said Chef Johnny Prepolec of Mr. B's Gastropub. "I’m putting a new speakeasy in my basement that’s opening in a couple weeks."

Prepolec added, "I mean it’s hard to say this isn’t going to be good for my business, I don’t think the way the city went about it was the most constructive."

Business owners like Joe Vicari, who closed Andiamo after 19 years, cites poor communication from the city and parking struggles as a big reason. 

Sam Ahmad, owner of Beirut Palace said he understands. He said it's hurting his carry-out business. 

"A lot of people say we get tickets the minute they walk in walk out they find tickets on their car," he said.

Ahmad added that he's tried talking to the city. 

"We talked to them they don’t really care they say go to court or whatever," Ahmad said. "We love this city but the way they are acting its hard."

The city of Royal Oak has set up a website to provide a map of where all the available parking is in the city, and to answer construction questions. 

Royal Oak Mayor Michael Fourier acknowledged that there are growing pains, and said he wants to help businesses overcome. 

"Certainly, during construction, there are some woes," Fourier said. "But we’ve also seen successes to those woes. I encourage every business owner -write me if you need to and I an help navigate and find that solution."

For more information on the Rethink Royal Oak development project, visit