As anyone who has recently ventured into St. Augustine's historic city center knows, a major roadworks project is underway. A $3.3 million project—one of several Legacy projects part of the City's 450th anniversary —will bring elegant streetscaping and make Hypolita, Treasury and Spanish Streets more pedestrian- and bike-friendly while also allowing for vehicular traffic. Since April, the construction has impacted local businesses on and around Hypolita Street in particular, which is only open to pedestrian traffic while massive excavation and installation of underground utilities is taking place. Signage is in place to help let people know businesses are open but, by all accounts, business has been down for everyone.
As Aimee Banion, owner of High Tide Gallery at the corner of Hypolita and Cordova Streets, told us, "Our front door is accessible, but unfortunately the big "ROAD CLOSED" sign deters tourists from getting off the trolley here, locals have been missing in action, and the recent hot temps have all combined in an unfortunate way for us."
Many of our longtime advertisers are located along Hypolita Street and adjacent roadways—Collage, Rhett's Piano Bar & Brasserie, Scarlett O'Hara's, The Spice and Tea Exchange, St. Augustine Photographic Arts, Meehan's Irish Pub, Michael's Tasting Room, Barley Republic Irish Pub, The Chocolate Turtle, and The Floridian and La Floridita and, of course, High Tide Art Gallery.
I just wanted to encourage everyone reading this to consider making a special pilgrimage to these businesses this month. It's interesting to see the "before" and the shop, gallery and restaurant owners located here will be so glad to see you! As Aimee points out, project managers have promised the streets will be open again and complete with beautiful pavers, streetlights and landscaping by the launch of St. Augustine's annual Nights of Lights (the lighting ceremony is Saturday, November 22) and for the holidays.
"We look forward to having the best Christmas season ever as everyone flocks to admire our quaint area," Aimee mentioned, "but, meanwhile, it's a very tough time down here in downtown." So, consider doing some early holiday shopping on and around Hypolita Street and stop for a drink or a bite of lunch or dinner along the way.
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WENDY WHITE PHILCOX
Publisher, The Restaurant Times
Wendy White Philcox is the owner of Publishing Partners, Inc., along with her husband, Chris; they are publishers of The Restaurant Times and Galleria Marketplace. Her background includes serving as editor of The National Culinary Review, a national magazine for professional chefs and expertise in public relations, marketing, event planning, writing, editing and publication development. She is the proud mother of an 11-year-old son, Andrew.