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Manhattan Chamber Of Commerce, MTA Launch Second Avenue Restaurant And Retail Week

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The opening of the Second Avenue Subway is still years away, but a Manhattan business group and the MTA are trying to make nice with those caught in the way of the construction. NY1's Jose Martinez filed the following report.

Downstairs, they're building, and upstairs, they're hurting.

As construction on the Second Avenue subway continues, residents and businesses are weary of being in a noisy construction zone, where ugly towers known as muck houses cover up rows of stores and block views from buildings.

"It's a nightmare," said one woman. "A total disaster."

It's been going on since 2007, when groundbreaking took place on the first stretch of the $4.5 billion subway line, from 96th Street to 63rd Street.

To help boost business along the avenue, the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority on Friday kicked off Second Avenue Restaurant and Retail Week, when close to 60 shops and restaurants affected by subway construction will offer discounts to customers. It's the latest move to help the struggling retailers.

"It's been our objective to help those businesses that are already here to survive, and also get ready for that big onrush," said Nancy Ploeger of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce.

But it hasn't been easy for those operating behind the walls of the muck houses, where "for rent" signs are plentiful.

"A lot of affected businesses in this area," said one restaurant employee. "People are not really like that."

Blasting of the caverns of what will eventually be the 72nd Street station of the new subway line came to an end earlier this year. The next big sign of progress above ground will be when one of the muck houses comes down later this summer.

After years of construction, MTA officials want neighbors of its new subway line to be patient a little longer.

"There is light at the end of the tunnel," said Michael Horodniceanu, president of MTA Capital Construction. "We are now moving into the finishes stage on some locations. That means we are going to start finishing the stations."

The line isn't expected to open for at least another three-and-a-half years.

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