MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - Some business owners say the fencing around buildings and the wooden boards on windows have kept people from visiting downtown Minneapolis.
"I’ve always said that the perception of downtown is a lot worse than the reality," says David Fhima, owner of the restaurant Fhima’s Minneapolis.
Fhima was one of a few business owners who didn’t board up during the trial, saying the boards do more harm than good and paint downtown as a bad area.
"There are issues, for sure, but the perception of those issues is much greater than the reality," Fhima adds. "Those boards have heightened that perception."
While businesses nationwide felt the impact of the pandemic, Minneapolis businesses also struggled with the impacts of a high-profile trial.
"It’s been a challenging year for sure…but the trial was a unique aspect of life in Minneapolis," says Steve Cramer, president of the Minneapolis Downtown Council. "No [other cities] dealt with the trial of this international scope."
Downtown will look a lot different beginning the week of April 26 as city leaders say services will resume at the Government Center now the Derek Chauvin trial is over. Barricades and fences around county buildings are also expected to disappear.
Business leaders are starting to feel good again and looking forward to bouncing back.
"Downtown is open," Cramer adds. "The downtown that people remember, not the downtown of last year but the downtown is active and vibrant. Orchestra Hall will be hosting concerts in June, Broadway will be happening on Hennepin Avenue in the fall, and the farmer's market is opening back up on April 29."
"You can feel it. There’s incredible optimism," says Fhima. "I don’t think we’re at the end […] we have a lot of work to do and I am very optimistic that we can do that work."