From October 5

The team behind the Albuquerque Rapid Transit project is introducing two new promotional programs designed to increase traffic to local businesses affected by the ongoing construction along Central Avenue.

Jamie Dickerman, spokesperson for ART, said the purpose of these programs is to encourage people to continue to visit businesses along Central, and to celebrate the rich history of the Route 66 corridor in the process.

“We support Central Avenue businesses and want to encourage the community to continue to do the same. One lane in each direction of Central will be open throughout the duration of construction, and Central Avenue is open for business,” she said.

The first of these promotions — 66 Reasons to Love Route 66 — is an incentive program that will reward customers when they support any of the participating local businesses.

“We know construction can be hard on businesses, so this program offers promotions and events to drive customers to their storefront,” Dickerman said.“Our hope is that businesses will continue to succeed throughout construction.”

The program will feature downloadable 66 Reasons to Love Route 66 cards which include money-saving incentives, and also give people the opportunity to participate in several contests and giveaways, she said.

Dickerman said the second promotion, titled ARTBeat on the Street, will feature live entertainment once a week throughout the construction process.

Each week, these “pop-up” events will take place at a different local business and partner with organizations like UNM School of Fine Arts to provide the entertainment, she said.

The first event took place on Sept. 29 at Rude Boy Cookies, with reggae band Crazyfool providing the live entertainment.

Kristin Dowling, co-owner of the business, said they saw sales increase by 300 percent during the hour-long event.

“I know that most businesses — especially small businesses — are really struggling with the idea of ART coming in and knowing construction is going to be hard. But I feel like if they’re doing these incentives to really help small businesses, we kind of have to be more open,” she said. “We haven’t had any complaints. I feel like if it’s happening, you might as well go with it”.

Dickerman said she hopes to see similar participation from other businesses involved in the events.

“We want that type of success for all businesses in the corridor. We also want the community of Albuquerque to join the fun and celebrate our wonderful Central Avenue businesses,” she said.

There are some local businesses that have chosen not partake in either of ART’s new promotional programs.

Larry Rainosek, owner of Frontier, said they were approached by the ART team to become one of the businesses participating in the new incentive programs.

However, Rainosek said they declined, as Frontier stands behind its goal to stop the project entirely.

“They’re going to try to offset the loss of access that we’re going to have during construction by promoting events of some sort in the area,” he said. “And our position is, what good does it do if it’s too difficult to get to the event?”

These promotions will continue throughout the remainder of construction. The ART team will be providing advertisements throughout the city and on social media for each of the upcoming events, officials said.

“We are just seeing this as being more of a Band-Aid, that isn’t really going to be good enough,” Rainosek said. “The end result is going to be significant loss of business to the merchants on Central. Theses programs just aren’t a solution.”