ESCONDIDO (CBS 8) - When it comes to downtown redevelopment, what a difference a block makes.
"This used to be the worst block in Escondido. Now it's probably the most expensive block in Escondido,"
Since October of last year, Grand Avenue between Quince and Pine has closed for renovation and beautification. It's been a strain for local businessmen like Ray Alto.
"It impacted us a lot. We're waiting for other businesses to come now. Kind of build it and they will come," he said.
Tony Hernandez, who owns the Latino's Market, is hoping his business, which is down 40 percent, will also come back.
"Wednesday they are going to open the street in the morning and I'm hoping that the customers that I lost will come back," he said.
Tony lost more than his customers during the closure.
"Since we cannot afford to have too many employees and try to stay in business, I got in an accident and my hand fell in a meat grinder and I lost three of my fingers," Tony said.
Still, he likes what he sees.
"We got the best street in all Escondido," he said.
The $2.25 million project included new pavement, curbs, storm drains, lights, landscaping, benches and fountains and it ties the block into the rest of Grand Avenue.
"That's what the city is trying to do. They are trying to make this like the main entrance for all of downtown Escondido," Tony said.
John Ypantides, who practices law on the block, calls the project a success.
"It was worth our wait. It's a beautiful project hat we look forward to it opening and tying into the rest of the downtown area," John said.
"It's kind of a gateway to Escondido and make it an attractive place to come and hang out,"
One small street for Escondido, one giant step for downtown redevelopment.