Ramsgate business owners on the brink as upgrade work drags on

Ramsgate beach business owners are calling for compensation after construction to upgrade the shopping strip has dragged on for more than a year.

The $7 million project was announced in January last year and includes new vehicle and pedestrian access, new lighting and street furniture. 

Contractor Ichor Constructions started work in March 2016 with the project due to be completed by December.

However, business owners have been left fuming with the project now not expected to be completed until August - eight months after the original completion date.

One takeaway shop owner, who wished to remain anonymous, said his takings had dropped by up to 40 per cent.

‘’Parking is crucial and that’s just been taken away,’’ he said.

‘’We’ve been here for 10 years and this is the worst it’s ever been.’’

Eddie’s Pharmacy manager Joe Kasparian said after years of growth the business was losing money each month.

He said they hadn’t had to let go of staff only because they had chosen to move on themselves. 

“Everyone’s hurting. It’s ridiculous really, I just want it to be over,’’ Mr Kasparian said.

“Shopping is a habit and people are jacked off. People just can’t find a park and we’ve lost all that foot traffic.

“It’s supposed to be part of the thriving town centres program but they’ve just killed it.

“The work needed to be done but the management of the project is what we have a issue with.

“We’re just hoping people come back.’’

Another cafe owner said he had lost around 50 per cent of their morning regulars.

“The work has been poorly managed from day one,’’ he said.

“No-one ever calls you back and no-one gives a damn about us.

“We have suffered the most. You have to be psyched to park your car and walk here just to get a coffee.’’

He wants Bayside Council to offer compensation - either a reduction in rates or a month's rent.

Froth Cafe owner Andrew Omopoulos agrees.

He said the main issue was traffic flow.

“The biggest problem is the exits and entrances,’’ he said.

“People are coming down the wrong way and using the exit as the entrance. Someone is going to be killed, how they haven’t already is amazing.’’

It’s not just business owners who are upset - shoppers are also fed up.

Glenn Middleton has lived in Ramsgate for 15 years and said the construction and lack of parking were dissuading even loyal customers.

“It has even put off locals shopping here, why would they bother?,’’ he said.

“I went to New Zealand last year and they were building a huge unit block across the road. That has been completed and people are living there but the parking here is still not finished.

“It’s not fair to the people that are putting their heart and soul into their business.’’

A Bayside Council spokesman said the delays were due to several reasons.

“There are a few reasons for the delay including a new civil sub-contractor being appointed, resolution of services and programming of outages with Ausgrid, Telstra, Optus and Sydney Water because some services encountered that were not mapped in the locations where they were encountered,’’ he said.

“This resulted in redesign and changed construction works coupled with wet weather delays.’’

He said compensation would not be offered to business owners and instead has offered to organise a month of opening activities to draw business into the centre.

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