Tama building street closures put businesses in a bind this holiday season

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BURLINGTON, Iowa – Doreen Roy knows she has a challenging holiday season ahead at “Gypsi”, her local boutique.

Her shop is right next to the gutted Tama building downtown - rubble is just yards away from her front door.

3rd Street and Jefferson Street are still blocked off from customers.  It’s been that way since this huge fire in early August.  No one was hurt, except for the businesses now struggling in the area.

“In some cases, we could be out about half, so several thousand,” reports Roy, looking back on her third quarter sales. “We could be down $25,000.”

People were told the street would reopen and debris would be cleaned up by December but delays with the insurance inspectors is pushing that date back.

“His goal is to have it done in December,” says the City of Burlington’s Development and Parks Director Eric Tysland, referring to the street opening deadline the Tama building developer is aiming for.

“I understand they have suffered a great loss as well, but we also have to do business and people have to be able to access us and they have to be able to drive down our street,” says Roy.

Roy says she wouldn’t be surprised if the debris isn’t gone before the new year.  The biggest holiday gift she could receive would be more downtown shoppers supporting this fire-damaged area.

“I love what I do, and I think that’s what keeps me going," says Roy. "And I think that’s what keeps our businesses going. We aren’t here because we have to be here, we are here because we want to be here."

The city says a structural engineer still needs to look at the damage before any demolition or plans take place.

The Tama building developer will be coming to the next City Council meeting to talk about the future plans and deadlines.  Parts of Jefferson and 3rd Street will stay closed until December.

The city plans to reroute its holiday parade

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