KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Over the last month, Consumers Energy crews in downtown Kalamazoo have been replacing underground power lines and equipment to address what they call “a need for increased capacity.” However, the road closure from that work is affecting more than just the utility.
Since work began on North Park Street last month, the Victorian Bakery next to the site lost 30% of sales in the first week. Co-owner Maria Brennan said that number went to 60% in the last two weeks.
“When it went down further, it was sort of a huge shock as to ‘Okay, we can’t survive six weeks of being down 60%,'” she said.
A Consumers Energy spokesman told News 8 that the work was supposed to start earlier this year. However, since it involved train tracks, delays in getting a permit from Amtrak pushed it back.
“Consumers Energy and the city (of Kalamazoo) reached out to us ahead of time. They’ve been really good about providing maps… (putting) up signs with directions… so everybody has really tried to make it as least confusing as possible,” Brennan said. “It’ll be great once it’s finished, but at the moment, it’s pretty hard sometimes to get in.”
While they had an emergency plan once they learned of the construction and road closure, Brennan told us there’s only so much she and her husband can do to make up for it.
“We have cut back on some things. We’ve cut back on a lot of our bread for the store. But then again, we’re selling it to (Kalamazoo Valley Community College) and to Valley Hub,” she said.
Brennan is hopeful the circumstances won’t force them to lay off any of the 20 employees, but they did have to be creative with staffing.
“We do have some people who we have paid vacation time who have chosen to take a few days during this time so that they can decompress, and they can have some time off,” she explained. “That has been great. But… we’re going to push through somehow. We’ve been through worse, so we’re going to get through this.”
While the original announcement said work would be expected to be done by Nov. 24, Consumers Energy said Friday the updated schedule has them reopening the road on Nov. 22, two days earlier.