Shop owner: With Mercer Mess, outlook 'very dire and scary'

SEATTLE -- Nearby business owners say the Mercer Mess is putting a strain on their businesses, and paving the way for their demise.

The shop owners, whose businesses sit along Fairview and Republican, say times have not been easy.

Lauren Stephen, owner of Pilates Seattle International, says she has been struggling just to keep the doors open. Her studio sits in the middle of the Mercer Mess.

"It is very dire and scary," she said. "The bankers are kind of done with us. The landlord's threatening to evict us because we're a month late on rent."

The city is rebuilding Fairview south of Mercer from the ground up. As a result, there is no parking and many clients who use canes or wheelchairs for physical therapy no longer have easy access to the business.

Stephen's complaints to the city have resulted in the creation of two handicapped-parking spots and a pedestrian crosswalk. But Stephen says the measures are too little, too late, and have left her on her own to fight for her business.

"We're hanging on; not going to go anywhere if we can help it," she said.

City officials have asked all affected business owners for patience. They say short-term pain should lead to long-term gain down the road.

"We are working to address their needs," said Rick Sheridan of the Seattle Department of Transportation. "We do realize this construction has adverse business on nearby businesses."

City officials expect this project to continue until at least the end of February, weather permitting. They encourage business owners to let them know about any problems, and say they will do their best to help find a solution.