WORCESTER (CBS) – Three weeks and counting, without an income, and seven small businesses in Worcester are more than a little worried that they just won’t last. The culprit is water pipes that burst during the cold snap early this month. The building owner says they’re fixing things as quickly as they can but some of the businesses say it might not be fast enough to save them.
The parking lot is empty at the Cambridge St. Plaza in Worcester. On January 3 the sprinkler system pipes burst, knocking out electricity, damaging property and leading to a full shut down of the seven small businesses that call this place home.
No business means no income. “Nothing. Nothing is coming in, and it’s all because someone is dragging their feet,” says Mike Milosh who has spent 11 years building his business, Unholy Grail Tattoo.
“January we should be booking people for February and March. When taxes come back, that’s the biggest time of year for us,” he says.
Restaurants and convenience stores in the plaza lost food, and all of the businesses lost customers. Mike is plainly upset. “The worst part of this whole situation is, no one is communicating. I leave a message, I get no return phone calls. I call them, no one picks up,” says Milosh.
“I don’t blame them for being upset,” says Lisa Bettencourt, the property manager of the plaza who works for the owner, Ikemba Enterprises. She says they’ve done plenty of work. “Electricians, my fire box and sprinkler alarm companies there, my sprinkler system, inspections have been done,” she says.
But she also says that after that work was done the Worcester Fire Dept. ordered more safety improvements like additional alarms, strobe lights and more sprinklers. Now they’re waiting to have their plan approved and then, keeping their fingers crossed. “I’m hoping at the most a couple of weeks, I really am, but it is a very large order,” Bettencourt says.
For the businesses, the clock is ticking. “It’s going to be hard for some to bounce back. You might lose a few,” says Milosh.
He’s considering moving his business even though that will cost him thousands of dollars. He says it would be worse to miss out on his busiest season.