CRL a headache for lo­cal busi­nesses

Auckland City Harbour News - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - HE­LEN KING

Auck­land’s City Rail Link (CRL) is pro­jected to fin­ish in 2019 but lo­cal busi­nesses fear they will be forced to shut their doors be­fore they can reap the ben­e­fits of the up­graded area.

Four­teen busi­nesses on Al­bert Street in the CBD, where the con­struc­tion is tak­ing place, have com­plained to Auck­land Trans­port (AT) about the im­pact of the pro­ject.

Only four met the strict cri­te­ria to pro­ceed to a claim.

Touted as the city’s most trans­for­ma­tional pro­ject in the next decade, the ex­ten­sion of the ex­ist­ing rail net­work was meant to help ease the bur­den on an al­ready strained pub­lic trans­port sys­tem.

A walk down the once bustling Al­bert Street had be­come a maze of bar­ri­ers, dig­gers, and the sound of jack ham­mers pound­ing the ground.

Nick McIn­tyre ran the his­toric Shake­speare Tav­ern.

He stood on the bal­cony of the iconic Auck­land pub which looked down onto the epi­cen­tre of the con­struc­tion site.

‘‘This used to be a draw card for us, now look at it. Who wants to put up with that when they’re eat­ing a meal?

‘‘We’ve ex­pe­ri­enced at least a 20 per cent down­turn in profit from last year.’’

Fur­ther down the road to­ward Quay Street, Con­ve­nience Store owner Luay Toufik also strug­gled.

He had been open for two years but wasn’t sure if he would still be op­er­at­ing in 12 months.

‘‘The IRD told me I’ll have to close if I have an­other year like the one I just had. It’s tough.’’

One of the prob­lems for busi­nesses like Toufik’s was that Al­bert Street was no longer on the bus route.

Across the road UP cafe owner Aaron Paul said they weren’t sure if they would still be open when the CRL was meant to be fin­ished.

‘‘We’re just keep­ing our heads above wa­ter at the mo­ment.’’

AT re­jected any sort of com­pen­sa­tion pack­age for busi­nesses or a re­duc­tion in rent.

Spokesper­son Carol Green­smith said there was ex­ten­sive con­sul­ta­tion with busi­ness own­ers prior to the pro­ject.

The claim process was avail- able for busi­nessess to go through if they felt they had been im­pacted but Green­smith was un­clear on what could be claimed.

She said if they could show a di­rect cor­re­la­tion with this pro­ject, or some­thing neg­li­gent that af­fected their busi­ness a claim could be made.

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