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Nassau Avenue Businesses Hurt by Construction

By Meredith Hoffman | May 10, 2012 10:48am | Updated on May 10, 2012 5:34pm

GREENPOINT — Pyza Restaurant, after surviving 17 years on Nassau Avenue, has lost half its business and fired three of its seven workers in the past month and a half. 

And manager Adam Dabrowski blames the construction on the once vibrant street.

"It's lunchtime. It's supposed to be packed," said Dabrowski, 30, in the nearly empty diner Wednesday.

"Everyone's using Norman Avenue now instead," he added, referring to the street one block over.

The restaurant is one of dozens of Nassau Avenue businesses to have suffered since the thoroughfare's major reconstruction began in March, closing eastbound traffic from Bedford Avenue off from the normally two-way street. The construction, slated to last more than one year, focuses on sewers and catch basins on the street.

Now more than 60 shop owners along Nassau Street, from Manhattan Avenue to Apollo Street, have asked for a signed a petition to switch the one-way traffic flow — and they hope the change will bring back lost customers.

"Whoever thought about this didn't use logic because most of the traffic was coming from Bedford," said Stephen Tychanski, owner of the 40-year-old mainstay Steve's Meat Market, located on Nassau by Leonard Street. "They should have asked the merchants we all know."

Tychanski, who organized the petition, noted that Driggs Avenue, which runs parallel to Nassau Avenue, was already one-way westbound. He said his customers who once drove to his shop now had to circle around to near his store.

"Every business is hurt," said Tychanski, noting that many of his longtime Polish clients drove in from Ridgewood, Queens, since they had been priced out of Greenpoint. "I've lost 20 percent of my business."

Meanwhile, at the block at Eva's Hair Salon, manager Daniel Wieczorek, and son of the owner, was telling his distributor he could buy no more products this week since business was so slow.

"Look, it's never like this," said Wieczorek, 35, flinging open the door to the salon with just one customer inside. "All the volume that usually comes by is gone."

Wieczorek said he was convinced a shift in the one-way street's direction would help — as was local Council Member Stephen Levin and Williamsburg's Community Board 1, which agreed on a resolution at a meeting Tuesday to request the traffic be switched.

"The traffic flow needs to be reversed because these businesses are suffering," said the Community Board chair, Christopher Olechowski.

A Department of Transportation spokesman the eastbound closing was chosen to best accommodate area traffic patterns. He said that the DOT and the Department for Design and Construction, which oversees the project, have been in communication with elected officials and other local stakeholders, and will work with them to find solutions to any community concerns.