A for sale sign recently went up in front of Owensboro Music Center, a local business that’s been around for decades.
Located at 1303 Breckenridge Street, Owensboro Music Center has been a longtime city staple. The business established a home in Owensboro over 45 years ago, the last 23 on Breckenridge Street. According to business owner Gordon Wilcher, that legacy will soon be over.
Wilcher, who also owns the building, said Owensboro Music Center has had a rough year due to ongoing underground construction that’s taken place directly in front of his business. Regional Water Resource Agency (RWRA) executed a months-long construction project that started last November and ran through August 2019. This project forced the City to close both lanes on Breckenridge Street, between 18th Street and East Parrish Avenue, for months.
After a while, one of the lanes on Breckenridge Street was opened to traffic, but Wilcher says most of the damage had already been done by that point. His holiday retail sales — something he counted heavily on as a business owner — had already been affected, putting the business in a difficult position to bounce back from. And even with one of the lanes open, customers still had to follow a winding detour to reach Wilcher’s store.
While Breckenridge Street has completely re-opened to traffic over the last few weeks, the road will be closed down again next spring for more RWRA repairs.
RWRA Director of Engineering Sean O’Bryan said bids for this tunnel-lining project will go out this winter, with the construction taking place from mid-May to Oct. 1, 2019.
“It will affect the same area on Breckenridge Street, from 15th Street to Parrish Avenue, and from Hathaway Street to the hospital property,” he said.
O’Bryan said the same businesses would be affected by the road closure, including Owensboro Music Center and JD’s Restaurant.
The news has been disappointing for Wilcher, though he says he isn’t quite sure what the future will look like for Owensboro Music Center after he sells the building. As of now, he hasn’t made any official plans in regard to closing his business down, or keeping it running.
Owensboro Music Center has been recognized as a Top 100 Music Store by the North American Music Merchants for the past seven years. Aside from retail, the business also leases out rooms to those who teach stringed instruments, piano and voice lessons. Owensboro Music Center offers guitar repairs and restoration, as well as sound and video installation for houses of worship, schools and football fields.
Wilcher said he places a lot of the blame for what’s happened on RWRA.
“I’m upset because we never got a warning, during the holidays, that the street was going to close,” he said. “I don’t think they intentionally wanted to harm anybody, but when you can’t pay your vendors, they’re not going to ship to you. This whole thing could’ve been handled a lot better. I could’ve made other arrangements to keep my house in order [had I known].”
RWRA previously told Owensboro Times that the affected businesses were warned about the road closure; however, those warnings were given with very short notice.
And with even more road closures in place for the near future, Wilcher said he doesn’t want his business to suffer through a holiday season like last year’s.
“If I do anything, it won’t be in that location,” he said.