Annie Dodd of the Alchemy Cafe stands in the middle of the South Grafton beautification work.
Annie Dodd of the Alchemy Cafe stands in the middle of the South Grafton beautification work.

Heavy equipment out of Skinner St

THE worst is just about over for the businesses in Skinner Street, South Grafton, as workers complete the ‘heavy lifting’ in the beautification of the business district.

Clarence Valley Council site foreman Terry Day said the heavy equipment would be out of the street in about a week and all the drainage and underground electrical wiring were in place.

“The worst is over. We will be continuing the paving work until around August, but that is hardly an inconvenience,” said Mr Day.

That’s good news for the 67 businesses that operate in the South Grafton CBD.

The owners of the Alchemy cafe in the Emporium in Skinner Street, Annie Dodd and Peter Freeman, say the short-term pain for their business will be worth the long-term gain.

“It’s what we expected,” Mr Freeman said of construction-site look in front of his business.

“I think it has hurt us a bit, but it will be worth it when it’s over.”

His partner, in business and life, Ms Dodd said the atmosphere had generated a sort of ‘inner city’ excitement in South Grafton.

“It’s exciting with stuff happening all over the place,” she said.

The only quibble Mr Freeman has with the council is a lack of communication about where the project is up to.

“It would have been good to have a bit of a timeline about when things were going to happen,” he said.

“But I suppose in this sort of project that can be a bit hard.

“We’ve had delays with the floods and every time it rains, the concreters have to stop work.”

Mr Freeman said he may have been able to drum up some business out of the workers outside his cafe.

“A lot of them come in for coffees and I’ve even taken a tray of coffees out to them,” he said.

“Some have come in for lunch to try my food. Some weren’t even aware we were here.”

The couple says once the project is complete they will have a shopping centre that will attract business to the area and improve Grafton’s lifestyle.

“Tourists love the area. They come here and can’t believe what a great place it is to come and shop and have a look around,” Ms Dodd said.



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