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To survive ART construction, desperate businesses get creative

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — While many business owners along the Albuquerque Rapid Transit route are keeping track of promises made and whether they are being kept, Richard van Schouwen isn’t one of them.

Van Schouwen, co-owner of Winning Coffee, just around the corner from Olympia Cafe, was aware of the opposition to ART, but he figured his coffee shop would be fine given its proximity to the University of New Mexico and the fact that it has been a popular fixture for 20 years.

These days, a handwritten sign hangs near his cash register announcing the “Save Winning Coffee” Indiegogo campaign that has been launched.

“We’re very much in trouble,” van Schouwen said, adding that he and his business partner, Sandy Timmerman, have already met with staff to let them know that they might have no choice but to sell or shutter the business.

They are now trying to raise $30,000 on Indiegogo, a crowdfunding website, to help them weather the economic storm that has resulted from ART.

Van Schouwen said the construction has altered both vehicle and foot traffic. He said many don’t want to walk across Central Avenue, because they think it’s dangerous.

He said he’s hoping that ART invigorates the area once it’s completed, but businesses will have to survive the construction phase in order to reap those benefits.

Van Schouwen is planning a block party in April to celebrate the unique, independent businesses along Central.

“If people would just consider the fact that there are so many great places up and down Central,” he said.

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