VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — After a long two years of construction along 19th Street in Virginia Beach, business owners along the roadway are happy to have open space again to welcome in customers.
The project's goal was to bring new life to the Virginia Beach street where local businesses thrive off of tourism and foot traffic. The city's Senior Planner and Urban Designer, Emily Archer, said they had a distinct image for what they wanted and are in love with the finished product.
19th Street was a four-lane street with small sidewalks, said Archer.
"It really needed to be friendly to pedestrians and aesthetically pleasing for the millions of tourists we get every year," she said.
Archer said it's not just what you see on the surface. A lot of work went underground in ensuring no future problems are to occur.
"It was really fun to layer in those artistic elements as we were developing the project, so we are really happy with how it turned out," said Archer.
For the past two years, business owners along the roadway have expressed their frustration over the construction confusion. While they understood it was a process that takes time for a better outcome, they had to deal with customers not being able to find routes to their businesses.
Now that the construction is complete, owners like Morgan Phipps from Beach Bully Barbecue, said it's a big relief.
"We're just happy there are no more road closures," said Phipps. "People can come all the way from the Oceanfront to the Convention Center. We would get calls probably two or three times a day at least with, 'how do we get to your parking lot? The road's blocked off!'"
Phipps said even heading into the winter months and the coronavirus pandemic, she is hopeful more foot traffic will be coming through her restaurant's door.
"It's a prettier place to walk through and now that we have all the murals done on the buildings as well, we're getting a lot of foot traffic of people just checking out the individual murals without having to route themselves around the construction," explained Phipps.
Archer said this is just one of many steps the city plans to take in fully revitalizing the area. She says they have plans to work on both the 17th and 18th streets as well.
For a closer look at the changes on 19th Street, click here.