AUSTIN (KXAN) - Downtown businesses say a multi-million dollar plan to beautify the streets of Austin has instead turned ugly.
As a result, the Austin Police Department now wants the city to remove several benches on the corner of Brazos and 6th streets.
Hakam Afridi owns the Littlefield Market on the same corner, and says the $11.2-million-beautification project has come at a steep price for him as well.
"It got worse when we had these benches," said Afridi. "I do my audit every month and I think I lose $70 to $100 a day."
The intended upgrades -- including planters, sidewalks and benches -- have been a letdown for Afridi who says they've attracted the wrong crowds and more crime.
APD hopes that by removing seven of the benches in the area it will help alleviate the problem.
But If the city approves the request, homeless people who frequent the area say they'll have nowhere else to turn.
"We don't want to be out here -- nobody wants to be out here," said Courteney Scales, who lives on the streets. "But the Salvation Army is full, churches are full, The Arch Shelter is full; there's nothing we can do." Visibly upset, she carried her 2-year-old daughter in her arms.
Hakam Afridi agrees that the growing homeless problem needs to be addressed, but hopes he can keep his business in good standing in the meantime.
"I hope it helps I don't know what is going to happen they have to go somewhere they're human beings too," said Afridi.
APD is also working with Austin Energy to get power outlets locked that are installed in the planters. They say the resource is another attraction that draws homeless people to the area.
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