South Limestone businesses are applauding Friday's reopening of their street, which had been closed since last summer for a major reconstruction project.
The artery from the south into downtown Lexington had been closed since July 22 for the $17 million project that's part of the Downtown Streetscape Plan to make downtown more pedestrian- and business-friendly.
Around 3 p.m. Friday, the construction crew finished striping the final section and the street was officially declared open from Avenue of Champions near the University of Kentucky to Vine Street.
The reconstructed street includes wide sidewalks accessible to those with disabilities, a bike lane, underground utilities, replaced storm and sanitary sewers, new street lights, street trees and curbside rain gardens.
Steve Baron, owner of CD Central, said he's seen a decline in business since construction began.
"All the businesses have suffered one way or another," he said.
CD Central used social media and advertising to let people know that the store was still open for business, Baron said.
"We've been able to survive because we have loyal customers," he said. "A lot of people made a point to support the businesses because they knew it was hard."
He hopes to get the word out that South Limestone is now open by continuing to use Facebook and advertising, as well as through the block party that will take place next Saturday, he said.
Mamadou Savane, owner and chef of Sav's Grill on the corner of South Limestone and Maxwell Streets, said construction has been hard on the street's business owners.
"It's been up and down like a roller coaster," he said.
Savane said he was especially worried when construction began, because his restaurant was small and not long established, having opened in September 2008, just 10 months before South Limestone closed.
Still, Savane said he's always believed in taking care of his customers by word of mouth and good customer service, something that has helped him be successful during construction.
"Our customers have been very loyal," he said. "Without them I don't know how we would have survived."
Although many people were upset by the street's closing, Savane said he thinks it will be worth it in the end.
"When it's done, it will be the nicest street in Lexington, that's for sure," he said.