Downtown Dallas businesses take economic hit with few visitors during pandemic

Many business owners are keeping a close eye on budgets and the future.

For some, 2020 may mean the end of their dream. As for new developments, most will likely be stalled thanks to the pandemic.

Downtown Dallas has the largest tax base in the county. And there's currently $4 billion worth of development in the pipeline. Some of those projects are put on hold due to the pandemic.

Take a stroll through Downtown Dallas, and it's obvious the usual hustle and bustle is missing.

With COVID-19 cases surging in Dallas county, many of the 135,000 people who normally work downtown are still working from home. Businesses, who rely on them and tourists for revenue, are hurting.

Dino Santonicola opened his restaurant across from the Statler Hotel last September. Business was booming at Partenope Ristorante. It's dropped 90 percent since the coronavirus hit.

“Conventions are gone and offices are gone. So you lost your core the big people,” he said

Then, protests delivered another financial blow. Some windows at Partenope Ristorante were shattered. Parts of the inside were damaged.

Other restaurants in the area are still boarded up.

On Thursday, Downtown Dallas Incorporated held a virtual chat called ‘The State of Downtown.’

Shawn Todd, a developer, says COVID-19 has interrupted everything from delivery of goods and services to the size of workforce on job sites. Still, he's optimistic the industry will rebound.

“You grab your boot straps and pull yourself up, and you have sober conversations often about how do we address this problem today,” he said.

Hotels are coming up with creative ways to attract customers.

The iconic Adolphus Hotel is running promotions for its spa and rooftop pool. Occupancy on the weekends is about 25 percent. That's high, compared to the roughly 5 to 10 percent during the week.

“We've really seen an uptick in weekend business. As expected, a lot of people wanting to get out of their houses,” explained Sam Tucker with the Adolphus Hotel. “Our best forecasting skills have been thrown out the window. We all have to revert back to that one day at a time. We will get through this.”

Santonicola is urging folks to order and shop downtown. He says there's no trouble finding parking, and your food will be ready in minutes.