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Legislative building construction causes the closure of downtown boutique

By Heather Hintze 8:23 PM December 10, 2013

The owner of Blu Menswear says it will be too difficult to stay open during the year-long demolition and construction project

ANCHORAGE – On a quiet Tuesday afternoon, Blu Menswear, a boutique in downtown Anchorage, should be open. Instead, the red closed sign is lit up.

Owner Renee Curzie said she had no choice but to shut down her shop because of major construction on the Legislative Information Office next door.

“We took it upon ourselves to just be closed because it would cost me more money to keep the store open and not have customers than it would to actually keep it running,” Curzie said.

She moved her boutique to the Alaska Building on Fourth Avenue a year and a half ago. The business was finally settled into the downtown scene and she’s just ordered holiday merchandise when she found out about the project at the end of October.

“It’s tough to be a small business anyway and the community and I feel that support, that people really want to buy local,” Curzie said. “I feel like we just got our roots down here and now this has happened.”

Her business shares a wall with the old Anchor Pub. With that building being demolished she didn’t think it was safe to stay open. Curzie said she had the option to keep the store running after the demolition, but the construction would make it too difficult for customers to get to the shop.

“Our rent would still remain the same, and of course, I’d still have to pay for everything I have to pay for: Insurance, employees and everything that happens on a normal basis,” Curzie said. “However, the foot traffic I would have to guess would be cut down to almost nothing over here.”

Jim Gottstein, the owner of the Alaska Building, said he also had concerns about the shared wall and moved his office space upstairs to another room.

He said Blu Menswear is taking the biggest financial hit of all his tenants.

“I think it’s very bad for Renee,” Gottstein said. “It’s ended up not being too bad for me because the contractor is going to rent the space. I think it’s unfortunate for Renee, but I don’t think there’s anything anyone can do about it.”

Curzie shares the same sentiment. She said all she can do now is pack up what’s left of her merchandise and make room for the construction workers to move in Jan. 1.

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