Traders shut up shop as construction wreaks havoc along southeast shopping strip.
Shopkeepers on a once-busy Frankston retail strip say they are struggling to survive construction works that have now engulfed them again, two years after VicRoads admitted botching them the first time.
Brittany Goldsmith, Frankston Standard Leader October 14, 2019 6:00am
Frustrated traders on a once bustling Frankson strip are battling extensive road works for the second time in two years as VicRoads fixes a botched revamp.
The Leader understands two businesses — including Frankston French Hot Bread — have already shut up shop as work causes chaos on construction-riddled Young St. And the Frankston Trader’s Association has stepped up in an emergency move to stop the work from wiping out small businesses on the street.
Almost 20 bus services have been diverted from Young St and giant hoarding was erected along shopfronts to make way for VicRoads’ “improvement” project, which started on Sunday and is scheduled to run into late November.
The Frankston Trader’s Association called an urgent meeting with community representatives and VicRoads on Sunday night in an attempt to ease the blow, with VicRoads then taking down the solid hoarding which had blocked the shops from public view.
President John Billing said an agreement was reached to replace it with temporary fencing, leaving businesses visible to pedestrians and motorists as excavation works take place. He urged shoppers to continue supporting local business during the stressful period. “Works like this as we know are a tough time for all, be it shoppers, employers, employees and commuters,” he said. “But I think we have shown what can be achieved when we all work together.”
Illuminated electronic signs will also be installed to display opening hours for all shops, and more PSOs will patrol the newly introduced temporary bus bays at the southern end of Young St and along Beach St. But one trader, who did not want to be named, said the works would still take a toll and claimed that traders have been feeling the pinch for more than five years. “We started to take off again, and now (with the works) we’re back to square one,” he said. “Why couldn’t they have done the works right in the first place? Small business reflect the majority of the workforce and we’re being neglected in a big way. “I hope they can fix the road as soon as possible.”
Frankston Pawn Shop owner Tony Cinorelli, who has worked off Station St for more than 15 years, said the entire Frankston CBD had been affected by ongoing construction, despite the works being necessary on Young St. “The road does need to be designed quickly … I hope they can fix it,” he said. “The traders are suffering, but if we all unite together there could be (a better outcome).” The works come after VicRoads allegedly admitted to traders they botched the street’s revamp in 2017 and left the road too narrow for emergency services to squeeze through.
According to the Committee for Greater Frankston, one in four office spaces and one in five shopfronts are empty in Frankston’s CBD. Two out of every four leased shopfronts are ‘inactive’ — meaning they are used as reception areas for government owned departments, employment agencies or medical centres — and not as cafes or shops.
Cr Sandra Mayer said she “sympathised” with local traders and along with the association, had demanded VicRoads uninstall the hoarding. “Council warned VicRoads the fencing would make the shops looked closed … we said it wasn’t a good idea,” she said. “There’s always going to be the other side of things, and there’s the pain that people go through (to get the final result). “The traders are just mums and dads who are trying to run a business and live … it’s not a good look for them.”
Nineteen bus services have been diverted along the strip, with nine temporary bus stops stationed on Beach St and 10 at the south end of Young St. Dianne Tame, who religiously picked up a coffee at the busy Young St interchange before swapping buses on her way to work at Carrum Downs, said her busload would not have time to support small business now they were being dropped off on Beach St. “There’s not enough time to walk from Beach St to the shopping centre with enough time for us to make it for our second bus,” she said. “The traders have lost a lot of customers. Now, passengers have no where to go for a coffee because we have to stay and wait for the bus … there’s nowhere to buy anything.” One resident said on social media that construction works weren’t to blame for the traders’ loss of income, and customers had to “do something to help” instead of complaining. “The last time Young St was under construction, there were endless social media posts about the damage (it would cause) to businesses and how some might have to close,” he wrote. “It’s unfortunate, but (people) are complaining and being negative, and doing nothing to help.
“If you genuinely care about your local businesses, you’ll spend your social media time promoting and sharing them so they get more exposure, customers and money … skip the negativity and replace it with something positive.” The works will be carried out under full road closure between 6pm — 6am between Sundays and Thursdays, with the possibility of weekend timeslots.