Businesses along I-4 feeling the effect of the Big Drive

New businesses are being scared off

ORLANDO, Fla. – Everyone traveling on I-4 expects delays and detours while construction continues, but businesses along the highway have suffered and new businesses have stayed away.

Most of us in Central Florida feel the effects of the I-4 Ultimate project one way or another. It’s not just limited to drivers hitting the highway. As active work picks up, an increasing number of area businesses are feeling the side effects of life under construction.

“It’s growing pain we’ve got to live through,” said Jamie Barati, managing director of Cite Partners. “Operationally for what I do on a daily basis, as much as I’m in my car. It certainly effects how I plan my day. How I get around to my different properties that we represent within that I-4 corridor.”

Barati works for a company that leases office space around Orlando. His company has run into a growing problem finding businesses willing to lease near the Big Drive.

“Having to sit on I-4 if your folks live in downtown Orlando or south and asking them to sit onI-4 to get to Maitland Center to save a few dollars on rent, people would rather stay where they are, Barati said.

Barati says he not only feels the effects himself but his employees do as well. Right now for many area businesses the Big Drive means a longer commute time, more time out of the office, frustrating detours, and less clients wanting to come to them.

For retailer and businesses off I-4, the outlook over the next few years holds more challenges until the project has been completed. But most are able to keep a sense of perspective.

“I think at the end of the day obviously, the growth of Orlando has warranted the expansion for I-4 so I think that those dollars that are being spent are well spent,” Barati said.

For now it’s easy to focus on the inconvenience surround the Big Drive, but in the end, it will all pay off.