Business owners say ongoing construction north of downtown continues depleting revenue

SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio has 54 construction projects currently working and city officials say 89% of them are considered on time. Still, many business owners near construction say the limited access to their establishment is driving revenue into the ground.

“It’s impossible for us to continue to do business on Broadway. We have no choice but to close the business down. We’re thinking early spring,” Augie Cortez Jr., owner of Augie’s Alamo City BBQ said.

The barricades surrounding the restaurant are a similar sight to those on the North St. Mary’s strip.

“It’s sometimes even more challenging than what we’ve dealt with and with COVID, which is a lot to say out loud. We’re looking at hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost revenue, just me personally, but I’m not unique,” said Aaron Pena, the owner of Squeezebox.

When the city has a construction project, they take bids from contractors. Assistant city manager Rod Sanchez said they usually have to take the lowest bid out of qualifying contractors. Currently, they take the lowest bid and their past experience into consideration when selecting the contractor.

“If we’ve had a really bad experience, or had to fire somebody or they’re super late on something, those are folks we won’t award the contract,” Sanchez said.

San Antonio Public Works Director Razi Hosseini said when a mistake is made, the contractor has to eat the cost and the time. He said a sub-contractor on the North St. Mary Strip placed a sewer line at the wrong elevation. The sub-contractor was selected by SpawGlass, the contractor hired by the city.

“What we’re going to look at in that case is, how did they handle that? In this case, they fired that contractor and brought someone in, so I think that was responsive on their part,” Sanchez said.

City officials said contractors can be awarded multiple projects at the same time. Businesses with the current construction said they weren’t happy about that.

Sanchez said City Council plans to address the responsible bidder’s ordinance on January 26. He hopes that’ll give the city more say in which contractors are selected going forward.

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