ST. PAUL, Minn. - Light rail construction along University Avenue is finally wrapping up, which is great news for some business owners.
On Saturday, the entire neighborhood on the east end of University Avenue celebrated the return of traffic with a parade.
It was the fourth annual parade for Unify University, a group created to keep the neighborhood strong throughout light rail construction.
Having road work completed and traffic moving freely again is a big deal, and they want others to notice.
"That's what we were kind of hoping to do with our parade is show that it's open again," John Slade of Unify University said.
Construction of the Green Line made it tough for businesses last year as customers avoided what became a dusty and noisy construction zone.
Mai Village Vietnamese Restaurant was among the businesses that lost customers.
"They say, 'Mai, I love your food. We love your family but I'm sorry we won't come back until light rail is done,'" Owner Mai Nguyen said.
Now that light rail construction is nearly complete, business is starting to pick up.
"Yes, a little bit," Nguyen said.
Bangkok Thai Deli actually moved its location during construction from a building with very little parking, to an old Burger King so it would have its own parking lot. The move was important since street parking along this stretch of University is gone.
Glan Yamthongkam, manager of Bangkok Thai Deli, said moving locations helped them survive.
"It's really convenient for people to come in and eat because we have plenty of parking for them," she said.
Business owners hope that once the light rail starts running in 2014 they will actually see more customers stepping off the platforms and through their front doors.
But they also hope the city doesn't hit them with higher property taxes right away. They say they are hoping to get a chance to recover from a couple of tough years.
"Give some businesses a break for a few years," Yamthongkam said. "We would appreciate it."
They hope in next year's parade, they can celebrate an even stronger University Avenue.
(Copyright 2013 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)