Chinatown merchants say Central Subway construction leading to business bust

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- If you've been anywhere near San Francisco's Chinatown, you've no doubt noticed the construction work on San Francisco's Central Subway Project.

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Once completed, Muni Metro service will reach all the way into the popular neighborhood, but Wednesday, some once bustling stores say the billion-dollar project is hurting their bottom line.

Up to 2 million visitors stroll through Chinatown per year. Locals hit the markets in the area too, but lately business is down.

A travel agency in the area is surviving the central subway delay. The station at Washington and Stockton Street is now slated to open in Dec. 2019 -- a year later than planned.

The construction zone is eating up valuable parking spots.

"We're trying to add parking because that was a direct request from the community and the merchants," said SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose. "They don't have parking to do loading and unloading for their businesses."

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Twelve new spots were recently carved out.

San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin's office says they've got a plan in place to give the most impacted merchants a one-time hardship payment. That could happen this fall.

Still, locals say some of the long-time merchants are going out of business.

"These businesses going down so they are going to close," said store manager Paul Wong.

When asked why he took the risk to open in Chinatown Wong replied, "We are planning for the future right now."

Wong's jewelry store staged a soft opening Wednesday a block from all the construction chaos because, in 2019, they envision no parking problems and more people.

"No need to drive here, just take the subway," said Wong.

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