GULFPORT -- Downtown merchants are eager to capitalize on a new attraction, but work on Fishbone Alley ground to a halt for a while.
When you tear into the wall of an old house, you sometimes find surprises. So it was with the service alley a contractor is transforming into Fishbone Alley, where pedestrians will soon find historic brick pavers, lighting, vertical gardens, artwork and entry ways into restaurants and bars.
The city broke ground on the alley's makeover before Christmas, but waited until after the holidays to start work.
Gulf Breeze Landscaping of Gautier began demolition Jan. 3, planning to complete the project in 90 days. On Jan. 20, workers ran into telecommunications lines in the alley's concrete floor, Gulf Breeze project manager Jason Roberson said.
Other utility companies also decided to replace lines running through the alley because of remodeling work to some of the surrounding buildings. The alley runs between businesses that front on 26th and 27th avenues.
The city installed a new sewer line in a nearby service alley that is being resurfaced as part of the project, said Kevin Mullen, project manager with consulting engineers Brown, Mitchell & Alexander Inc.
With all the utility work going on, Mullen said, Gulf Breeze had to stop work Jan. 21.
He said the company should be able to resume work in the service alley Wednesday, then get back to Fishbone Alley, where demolition has been finished and construction will begin.
Gulf Breeze will have 60 days to finish the job, but Roberson said, "We're going to put more manpower on it and try to get everything done before the 60 days is up."
The contract price of $250,191 will not change.
Laurie Toups, executive director of the Gulfport Main Street Association, said a number of events are being planned for Fishbone Alley's opening. But she didn't want to spoil any surprises.
"Everybody's ready," she said.