NOGALES, Ariz. (KGUN) — It was once one of Nogales busiest streets---Morley Avenue--attracting business from Sonora, Mexico and Arizona.
Today, more than half of the businesses are abandoned.
"Morley avenue is going through a crisis, actually,” said Mayor Arturo Garino, City of Nogales.
Mayor Garino said it is a result of the pandemic.
The usual source of the city’s sales tax— cross-border travel— took a hit and it was something the city felt.
"It all depends on the time of the year but 65 to 70% of our sales tax comes from people from Nogales, Sonora," he said.
He said the City of Nogales made up for it with federal dollars, but he knows the city can’t depend on that forever.
"We need the federal government to open up the port for non-essential people to come across,” he explained.
He thinks it's doable because over 80 percent of the border city is vaccinated.
One of the few businesses open is La Cinderella on the corner of the historic street. He agreed the border should open.
“I can’t wait for them to open. I just want my customers back,” said Gregory Kory, a third-generation retailer.
Kory's family has owned La Cinderella since 1947.
He said to say it was tough to keep the store going during the pandemic is an understatement.
“I think we’ve lost 80 percent of our revenue. We’re running on fumes,” he said.
Mayor Garino and the city council are working to see what can do to revamp the historic retail district.
It's a challenge Garino knows won’t be easy.
"It can be done with different means. It doesn’t have to be clothing stores. It can be some kind of restaurants, cafes, office space,” said Garino.
Kory is glad the city council is paying attention.
"There are lots of vacancies. I think if anyone’s in commercial real estate this is a great place to buy,” he said.
While nothing is set in stone yet, Garino explained council plans to see how it can make it easy for businesses to fill the vacancies by bringing business owners and property owners together.
“How can we create incentives to help them? If somebody wants to put in something in a store and there’s got to be some construction, building permits, water connections, development fees and all of that. We can help with that,” said Garino.
For now, Kory is appreciative of the customers he has and is going to do what it takes to keep his shop around.
“Do what’s necessary to survive,” said Kory.
Discussion on revitalizing the economy will continue city council study session on August 4.