Stacey Edwards of Memphis Barbers is just one of Upper Mary St’s concerned business owners.
Stacey Edwards of Memphis Barbers is just one of Upper Mary St’s concerned business owners.

Embattled Upper Mary St traders hold grave fears

EMBATTLED Upper Mary St traders hold serious concerns for the future of their businesses as Gympie Regional Council's ongoing, $3 million beautification project severely impacts customer numbers.

The controversial project commenced in August and has seen large parts of Gympie's CBD blocked off to cars and pedestrians.

Phase One of the project was expected to finish by October 25 according to a stakeholder update released by the council earlier last month, but "some delays" has seen restricted access in that area remain past the deadline.

The Upper Mary St project has severely impacted customer numbers for local businesses.
The Upper Mary St project has severely impacted customer numbers for local businesses.

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Emilia's Cafe owner Jodi Giorno told Seven News the lagging project had cost her business thousands, as well as her staff.

"100 per cent it's had a big effect on our business, we've got staff who don't have hours so they don't get paid, I myself haven't been drawing a wage," Ms Giorno said.

"We're down a lot of money … 12 weeks it's took for something that originally we were told was only going to be three.

"I understand that there's delays and there's going to be hiccups as you go along, but 12 weeks is a lot bigger than three."

Ms Giorno said it was "hard" to see her cafe take a "nose dive" after 17 years in the community.

Jodi Giorno, Kelly Jacobson and Maria Leroyer celebrate the opening of the dining room extension of Emilia's cafe.
Jodi Giorno, Kelly Jacobson and Maria Leroyer celebrate the opening of the dining room extension of Emilia's cafe.

Memphis Barbers owner Stacey Edwards said she was already feeling the pinch, despite only being blocked off for the past week.

"I would be half the number of customers I usually get, and we're just at the start," Ms Edwards said.

"I've had to cut staff hours already. I'm not against the upgrade itself, it's the lack of care for the people actually in the street."

Julie Kypiotis and Tellia Clements of the Empire Hotel said noise levels and large amounts of dust had been factors during night-time dining hours.

The council's stakeholder update said the Phase One delays had been caused by an asbestos electrical pit "that was not identified during design", excavation into rock for a stormwater drainage pipe and "numerous, previously unidentified building stormwater pipes under the footpath".

A spokesman for the council said the project was expected to finish by February 2020 "subject to delays due to wet weather and other unknowns."

The spokesman said the project was "on budget".