Aug 19, 2023
Downtown Orlando businesses close due to unstable scaffolding
The latest breaking updates, delivered straight to your email inbox. Update: Pedestrian access has been opened to the businesses on the north side of West Church Street between Garland and Orange
The latest breaking updates, delivered straight to your email inbox.
Update: Pedestrian access has been opened to the businesses on the north side of West Church Street between Garland and Orange Avenue.
Downtown Orlando businesses are struggling while a company works to safely remove scaffolding that's in danger of collapse.
It's a safety hazard that's kept some downtown Orlando streets, sidewalks and businesses closed since last Thursday.
But WESH 2 has learned some of those businesses may be able to reopen as soon as Wednesday.
“It is upsetting for me. It's mostly upsetting for my staff,” Skylar Harper, with Church Street Entertainment, said.
Harper is getting inventory ready at the six bars owned by his company, including Chillers, Cahoots, High Tides, Irish Shannon, Saints & Sinners Cantina, Clandestino, as he hopes to soon have them reopened. With the doors closed since last Thursday, his 76 employees have been struggling.
“You know, it's been difficult. It's been really hard. About 90% of my employees are tipped employees. Meaning they make a living off the tips they receive, so that's been difficult,” Harper said.
Now he's telling his staff to return to work Wednesday. He says city staff informed the owner that they are tentatively set to reopen the sidewalks on Church Street to pedestrians while keeping the street closed.
“We have no doubt that our guests are going to come back. I just wish they hadn't left in the first place,” Harper said.
All of this began last Wednesday when some of the scaffolding on the east side of the former Suntrust Center became unstable and at risk of collapse. That prompted the shutdown of Orange Avenue, Church and Pine.
On the rooftop at High Tides, you can see the scaffolding on the north side of the building, and that is actually stable. They're not having a big problem with that. And that's why the city has been working with the contractor to try and get, at least, Church Street businesses reopened.
According to Balfour Beatty, work should begin this Thursday to deconstruct some or all of the scaffolding. They say it could take a week or more.
A spokesperson added, "We understand the importance of resolving the problem quickly and deeply regret any inconvenience resulting from the need to restrict access to the area during the process, but our top priority is the safety of downtown businesses, residents, and our people."
In all, more than a dozen businesses have been closed or negatively affected by street and sidewalk closures. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration confirms it's investigating to determine the cause and to see if Balfour committed any safety violations.
WESH 2 Investigates reviewed OSHA investigations dating back to 2010 in Florida and found no violations for the company.
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