Downtown London is trying to turn lemons into lemonade.
With a Dundas Street repaving project set to rumble through the core next week, the business association enlisted the help of about 10 artists to give the road a makeover late Sunday and create a buzz.
Dubbed “ArtAttack,” Ryan Mahy, owner of ArtFusion and artists painted the phrase “Experience Downtown London” between Talbot and Wellington streets overnight. Surrounding letters in the phrase are smaller messages, like “Downtown is Open for Business.”
“We just wanted something that would bring a lot of attention to where the work is being done,” said Janette MacDonald, Downtown London’s executive director. “We need people to know where (the construction) starts, where it ends and that businesses are open.”
As the Monday-morning commute started, MacDonald’s desired “buzz effect” seemed to be catching on. People waiting for buses stared intently at the messages. Others cycled or skateboarded along the street taking pictures, and there was social media chatter as well.
MacDonald hopes the enthusiasm will continue — and draw more pedestrians to businesses — while Dundas Street is closed to cars through late May. Instead of taking a negative approach to construction equipment rolling past, MacDonald wants businesses to offer special “shave and pave” deals and, in general, have a little fun.
“This kind of thing can be very debilitating to businesses,” she said. The goal is to kind of “spill onto the street and do a few (interesting) things.”