Downtown businesses will have to endure a few more headaches before a 20-screen theater and retail complex opens this summer, but the long wait is almost over.
The first store in the project, Cost Plus World Market, will open its doors next week with a formal event Thursday.
Before that can happen, however, Jefferson Avenue will be closed between Middlefield Avenue and Marshall Street today through Saturday to complete the roadwork necessary to bring people to the new store's door, according to city engineer Brian Lee. The road will be rebuilt down to a depth of about 12 inches in order to handle the expected influx of traffic.
Crews originally planned to close only the northbound lanes for this work, but discovered more reconstruction work would be necessary. Closing the street allows them to finish the work more quickly, according to Lee. The street will remain open to pedestrians, while drivers will be routed along Main, Middlefield and Marshall streets.
Many downtown shops and restaurants have endured months of roadwork and closures, but merchants are taking it in stride.
“It's a little trouble, but we're being patient with it,” said Ike Martinez, manager of Tarboosh restaurant, located on Jefferson. “It's going to benefit us later on.”
Bob Bryant, who runs the Courthouse Restaurant, has watched road crews work on the Broadway streetscape for months — and watched his customer base diminish by as much as 60 percent. “Pretty soon, I'll have to pay the customers to come in,” he joked.
Workers have told Bryant they expect to finish working on Middlefield by May 8, and on Broadway by mid-May. The parking lot under the theater and retail site will also be finished by mid-May, and new payment equipment will go in at the Marshall and Middlefield lots, according to Redwood City Economic Development Director Pat Webb.
More new stores will open, including Cost Plus' neighbors, Shoe Pavilion and the San Mateo Credit Union, in early June. New restaurants along Middlefield will open throughout June, and Century Theaters' 20-screen cineplex is currently slated to open by July 21, Webb said.
The project is expected to be a major boon to the city, bringing in $200,000 in sales tax annually, according to Finance Director Brian Ponty. Downtown businesses expect to benefit from the influx of new patrons, estimated at 1 million a year.