The commercial district in Seaside, closed since last month, won’t be reopening on April 30, according to the Seaside Community Development Corporation.

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SEASIDE — Barely a month after the founders and leadership team at the iconic Walton County Road 30A resort and residential community of Seaside announced the town’s commercial district would be closed until April 30 due to COVID-19, its merchants have been informed that the closure will extend beyond that date.


In a Saturday announcement on the Seaside website, the Seaside Community Development Corporation said it had "announced to Seaside merchants that the Commercial District will remain closed after April 30, 2020."


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In a letter to those merchants, included in the Saturday announcement, the SCDC said it had "set April 30 as a future date to review as the situation dictated." The letter goes on to note that any "date of reopening is not yet clear ... ."


The letter does, though, include an invitation for "input from our merchant community," and announces a meeting set for early this week between the SCDC’s "mitigation team" and merchants to "discuss measures SCDC is thinking about to keep health and safety first when we do reopen."



The letter does not detail what the SCDC might be considering in connection with reopening the town’s commercial district. With the exception of food service establishments, which can operate on a take-out basis, Seaside’s commercial district has been shut down since noon on March 21. The commercial district closure came just five days after Seaside closed its private beaches in response to concerns about the new coronavirus.



It was the SCDC’s mitigation team that, after an education campaign regarding the spread of COVID-19, decided to shut down the town’s commercial district, which at this time of year is routinely crowded with shoppers and diners.


"As we peek into the weeks ahead," the SCDC’s Saturday letter notes, "there is truly only one thing we know for certain, we must put health and safety first as a community."


Elsewhere in the letter, the SCDC says it is anticipating that the collaboration between the mitigation team and merchants "will result in guidelines for all merchants to create your own plan that works for the reopening of your business. ... Fundamentally, you know your business will ‘look’ different as we gradually reopen."


Kerri Parker, the SCDC’s executive director of communications, whose name appeared on the letter to Seaside merchants, did not return Monday phone calls and an email seeking comment on the change in plans for opening the town’s commercial district.


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One of Seaside’s merchants, Bert Summerville, owner of Art and Things, which offers and eclectic mix of art, clothing and toys, said Monday she is "certainly hoping" that the SCDC will listen to Seaside merchants as the town considers reopening its commercial district.


Summerville has kept her three employees on the payroll since the shutdown, at a little more than their full wage. However, although she filed for the program quickly, she missed out on the federal Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses. Congress is expected to approve additional funding for the Small Business Administration initiative.


Since the Seaside commercial district was shuttered, Summerville’s employees have been cleaning the shop, doing inventory, and sending some items as donations to Goodwill, she said.


But, she added, that’s not something she can sustain.


"I can’t do it indefinitely," she said.