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In testy meeting, St. Mary's strip bar owners pressure construction crews

Road closures force would-be patrons to other entertainment districts, bar owners say.

SAN ANTONIO — In a testy meeting Friday, bar owners told city leaders they should fire the contractor redoing roads and sidewalks along the St. Mary's strip.

Construction will eventually make the stretch more walkable, but bad weather and an early sewerage mistake have delayed completion. The problems also forced road closures bar owners did not initially expect. 

Now, the entrepreneurs contend construction crews aren't adequately staffed or working urgently enough to make up for lost time. 

"You guys cannot continue to tell us that weather delays are happening when we come out here and see one guy in a truck pulling out forms on a Sunny day," said Chad Carey, Little Death wine bar owner. 

Carey and others acknowledged it's probably too late for San Antonio to replace the project's contractor, SpawGlass. Instead, Carey said he hopes his frustration pressures the company into faster work. 

Road closures, in particular, make it difficult for would-be patrons to navigate the strip. Parking is available, but it can be hard to find. 

Patrons who brave the trip to the strip must weave between construction netting and around gaps in the sidewalk to enter their preferred watering hole.

"They can't figure out how to get here, so they go somewhere else," Gallery Club owner Kenny Simpson told KENS 5.

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One of Simpson's partners told city leaders business is currently worse than it was during the pandemic's height, when bars could not operate normally. 

A SpawGlass representative told bar owners a portion of North St. Mary's St. will reopen to traffic next week. But workers will subsequently close another stretch, limiting access from U.S. 281. 

The contractor agreed to reassess its plans with community input. 

"We heard every concern and the city is committed to delivering the projects the community needs," San Antonio assistant city manager Rod Sanchez said in a statement to KENS 5. "The construction on North St. Mary's St. is slated to be substantially complete by March, meaning roadways will be open to the public."

Construction began in May 2021. 

Bar owners left Friday's meeting visibly frustrated. Any further delay, they say, could shutter businesses. 


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