Downtown Businesses Asking City Council to 'Free The Streets' Near Omni Building

Published 05/06 2014 10:22PM

Updated 05/06 2014 10:47PM

By Monica Yantosh

LUBBOCK, TX -- Some businesses downtown are asking the City Council to re-open streets that have been closed because of the Omni Building.

The business owners said they know there were safety concerns, but now, those don't seem to be there, so they would rather see the streets re-open. The streets closed in May 2013 because of safety concerns with things falling from the building.

Trish Varnell owns the Back Door Diner on 13th and Avenue K. She said she thinks the street closures are hurting her business.

"They'd close it, they'd open it, they'd close it we can tell it affects business when it's closed, definitely," Varnell said.

She and other business owners on the block are signed up to talk to the Lubbock City Council about it Thursday. There is also an item on the agenda where the city can discuss and possibly take action on re-opening the streets.

"It's a hassle getting to work, it's a hassle for our clients to find our office," Chuck Lanehart said.

Lanehart has a law firm just across the street from the Back Door Diner, and just about a block from the Omni Building. He said it hasn't necessarily hurt him financially, but it hasn't made things any easier either.

"Lawyer's clients have to see them, customers that come to us don't have to come here," Varnell said. "They can go other places, and so if they can't get here, they're not going to stay."

"We don't want them to be out of business, we don't want any of our neighbor's to be out of business," Lanehart said.

The city's building inspector Steve O'Neal said the streets were closed in May 2013 and have stayed closed for the past year. That's not the only time he said the streets have closed; he said there had been times when they had to temporarily close the streets out of safety concerns.

O'Neal said while it may look like everything is holding on well at the Omni, "we just can't guarantee that something won't happen," O'Neal said.

O'Neal did note that the building's owner has removed about 90 percent of the material on the building they were concerned about.

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