Durham businesses near gas explosion want their customers back

Wednesday, April 17, 2019
Businesses near Durham explosion site hope customers return
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Businesses near Durham explosion site hope customers return soon.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Businesses near the gas explosion are asking customers to come back.

A week after the deadly blast, Fergus Bradley, owner of Maverick's Smokehouse and Taproom, said the now-empty parking lot behind the blast is keeping people away.

Crews closed the parking lot as they investigate what happened.

"We're here. We're open," Bradley said. "The restaurants and the stores in the immediate vicinity have suffered a loss."

The loss of customers magnifies an issue that businesses in and around Brightleaf Square said they have been dealing with for years as the area grows: limited parking.

READ MORE: Full coverage of the deadly Durham explosion

Bradley said it's been a turnoff to customers and may have led to some shops going out of business.

The empty parking lot behind the explosion site and the packed lot across from it are owned by Brightleaf Square.

Bradley's bar is not considered part of Brightleaf, so his customers have to pay.

"People are looking to get their parking validated. It can be confusing for diners and shoppers to understand the difference between one store and the next. Whether or not it's affiliated with Brightleaf Square," Bradley said. "That's not easily understood when they arrive down here."

On Wednesday, Bradley said area businesses met with the city about the problem.

City officials told ABC11 that they plan to address the issue as well as work with county leaders to determine what financial resources each business affected will need.

And then there's community support.

Staff at Alliance Behavioral Healthcare went door-to-door in the Brightleaf area offering emotional support for people traumatized by the explosion.

"Once the shock begins to wear off of what happened, a lot of the feelings of fear and apprehension, concern and sadness begin to set in," Ann Oshell said. "We just want to check on people and offer some help where people might need it."

Alliance Healthcare said it wants to hear from people in the Brightleaf Square area who may feel anxiety, depression, or experience traumatic flashbacks from last Wednesday's explosion.

It is holding a community meeting at the Duke Memorial United Methodist Church.

It will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday and it's open to the public.