By Caitlin Switzer

MONTROSE—For Sampler Square merchants and their customers, the infrastructure/reconstruction project that originally began in July of 2011 has be- come an obvious inconvenience, blocking access to the front of the historic, mixed-use building through- out the busy summer months, and causing a slow- down in walk-in traffic for some businesses despite signage directing customers to available access and parking areas. In addition to retail and fitness facili- ties, Sampler Square includes several salons and the newly-remodeled Amelia’s Hacienda Restaurant (44 South Grand). However, city officials promise that in the end, the effort to complete a major reconstruc- tion of Montrose’s north-south arterial corridor will result in an enhanced business district and a brighter future for the lower downtown area that some have taken to calling LoMo.

“It has been rough going,” said Minette Pool, a fitness expert whose business, Dynamic Movement Pilates, has been located in Sampler Square since December of 2010. “To get here, people really do have to get off the beaten path—the work- ers and the crews have been awesome, and our landlords are invested and really giv- ing–but I am missing my drive-by traf- fic.”

Montrose City Engineer John Harris promises that by month’s end, the incon- venience will be “a bump in the road.”

“We’ll have wider sidewalks, and easier access for both vehicles and pedestrians,” Harris said. “It will be a safer corridor for everyone. And I think the beautification will draw people to the area.”

The project is expected to be complete by the last week of September or first week of October, he said.

Sampler Square is not the only business community that has been impacted by construction. Leslie Phillips, who has op- erated her business West Main Liquors (113 West Main St.) at its current location since 2006, said that she has had five or six days recently that have been “way un-der average.” “It feels a little like January in here sometimes,” joked Phillips, “but the work- ers have been very helpful, and in the end, I think my property will be worth more.”

Phillips said that while she does not ex- pect the popular Main in Motion street festivals ever to encompass the businesses on the West side of Main Street, she hopes that the improvements will eventually bring more recognition to the LoMo dis- trict and areas further West.

“I have known for years that they were going to do this,” Phillips said, “so I really have no complaints.” Montrose City Manager Bill Bell said that he believes the improvements will directly benefit the community and the West Main business district.

“From an economic development per- spective, we are taking an area that has been pretty shoddy and making major improvements,” Bell said. “Unfortunately, there are inconveniences, as there are with any major reconstruction project. But we have had many conversations with local

business owners, we have tried to make sure that the rear entrances to Sampler Square have remained open, and we have put out as much signage as possible.”

The LoMo area is just one of the areas targeted for significant improvements, he added, noting that the blighted buildings located on North Cascade across from the Region 10 Enterprise Center (300 North Cascade) will eventually be purchased and demolished as well.

For small business owners like Minette Pool, however, the summer has been exer- cise in patience.

“I strive to provide a good service, but I do feel my summer has been a little slow,” Pool said. “I hope that when it is all done, there will be some fanfare! We all need to pull together, and have some kind of open house. “What I would like to see are street par- ties,” she said.

“In the end, I hope the City will put something together to promote our area— to show everyone our potential, and what this side of town has to offer.”