COLLEGE STATION - The Northgate Entertainment District is booming again as students at Texas A&M and Blinn return to class and that's good news for many businesses in the area.
They say this summer was especially slow.
News 3 has a look at why there may have been a decline.
Bustling sidewalks and streets are a common site in Northgate as more than 50,000 Aggies get ready for school Monday.
Daytime retailers and businesses here are glad to have them back after some had a summer slump.
Jennifer Amador has plenty of customers needing trims at the Northgate Barbershop, the oldest business in the entertainment district.
"People are starting to realize the free parking during the week and so I think we're getting a little bit busier, but it's still really slow in the summer," said Amador.
Part of the problem is the permanent closure of College Main and removal of parallel parking on University Drive to make the area more pedestrian-friendly.
"It's nice in some ways and it's not in some ways and we used to have customers that would pull up and just drop there, you know family members off," she explained.
One of the businesses hardest hit is the Texas Aggie Book Store. Now sales do slip every summer but staff inside tell us it seems to be getting worse.
Now that the students are back they hope fall sales will make up for the summer slowdown.
Just a few doors down business boomed at the Backyard.
General Manager Kenneth Wycoff says summer was better than they could have imagined their first year after changing from Fitzwilly's.
"We had a tremendous summer. I was very surprised and humbled at the consistency in the amount of people that we had most of the time even during the weeknights," said Wycoff.
Chris Scotti, Executive Director of the Northgate District Association says it's an ongoing balancing act addressing the many needs of businesses here.
"Even though some folks say it's been a little bit short a little bit slow, we are looking forward to an awesome fall. We've seen a huge uptick since we joined the SEC," Scotti said.
A changing place that's mostly known as the place to party.
The city has also added more free parking around Northgate and even made the main surface lot free from 11 to 2 weekdays for the lunch rush.
Parking meters are now free during certain times.
For more on parking rates and free times to park see the related links section of this story.