NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Hidden away behind an enormous blue fence along Grand Street in Williamsburg is a struggling bodega, and an owner worried about losing his business.
“The people they think we’re closed,” owner Ismail Mozab said.
As CBS2 reported on Wednesday, Mozab said his business flatlined ever since the Metropolitan Transportation Authority started construction five months ago, to repair subway staircases.
The construction fence wraps around the block and hides his store. The only way in is through a little entrance off Bushwick Avenue.
As CBS2’s Scott Rapoport reported, the fence was scheduled to come down last week, but the MTA said unforeseen construction delays prevented that. The MTA now says it won’t come down for at least 6 more weeks.
The posted reopening date at the site remains blank.
Mozab said he is running our of time and money.
“(How much business have you lost?) Sixty percent. Like when I used to make 100, now I make 40,” he said.
CBS2 contacted the MTA demanding answers, and asked if Mozab could get restitution for lost revenue.
The MTA said now.
After the story aired, CBS2 reached out to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office to see if there was anything the city could do to help Mozab. They promised to look into it.
On Friday, representatives from three city agencies; Small Business Services, Community Affairs, and the DOT met with Mozab and his lawyer to try to help.
Meanwhile the MTA avoided CBS2’s cameras all wee, but a rep did show up suddenly on Friday. He refused to answer questions, and then grabbed CBS2’s equipment.
Following closed meetings Mozab said the MTA and the contractors agreed to lower the height of the plywood fence shielding the bodega from sight, and replace the top part with plexiglas so people could see the store.
Some type of financial assistance may be possible too, but they would not say how or from whom.
“You’re asking for more information than I have at this point,” Mozab’s attorney Antonio Pasquariello said.
“That includes loans, financing, and it seems the MTA will be able to offer some type of benefit as well,” Marco Carrion, Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit said, “I want to say thank you to CBS for alerting us to the situation. And you do a great job.”
Mozab said for the first time in a long time, it’s a step in the right direction.
“Thank you for your help,” he said.
And the help came at last after five months of being fenced in.