RICHMOND, Va. — Clay Market at Broad and 2nd streets was quiet at 11 a.m. last Thursday.
But Alex Paul, who was manning the counter at the downtown convenience store, said it wasn’t that way just a few months ago.
“I could not even spare time to talk to you right now,” he said.
A block over from Clay Market, the Friedman’s Loan Office is similarly empty at the 118 E. Broad St. storefront it has operated out of for more than 70 years.
“We used to have people in all the time,” Friedman’s employee George Thomas said. “People used to stop in all the time between bus stops to talk.”
But crowds waiting for the bus in front of Friedman’s and Clay Market have thinned since this spring, and that’s pumped the brakes on business in the three- to four-block section from the beginning of East Broad Street to the convention center’s Broad Street Lecture hall.
At least two shops within the area have shut in recent months, including one of the few national retail chains on that stretch.
Much of the change seems to stem from the new temporary bus transfer plaza on 9th Street near the John Marshall court building that the Greater Richmond Transit Co. opened in late April. The GRTC is using the plaza to test the feasibility of building and maintaining a permanent transfer station downtown, said GRTC Director of Planning and Scheduling Garland Williams.
About 3,100 people come through that transfer plaza each day, and that number is steadily rising. Previously, Williams said, nearly all of those riders likely would have stopped on Broad Street.
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