ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- Businesses along Avenida Menendez said they're thankful the new seawall is now finished.
After nearly two years of construction, the new seawall along Avenida Menendez in St. Augustine is now complete.
"It has been a long time for sure," said Carl Connell.
Connell is the manager of the Santa Marina restaurant in St. Augustine. He said the restaurant took a huge hit while crews constructed the new seawall.
"Our business has definitely been cut in half and it has definitely been a struggle for the last year," said Connell.
City leaders held a dedication ceremony Friday for the seawall's official opening.
The project cost more than $6 million and was supposed to be finished last summer.
City Manager John Regan said changes to the design slowed the progress.
It was built 12 feet into the bay using concrete and reinforced steel.
The city said the wall is strong enough to withstand a Category 1 hurricane.
"I think we're all glad that it's done so that we can get back to-normal business and now we have a seawall that will better protect us from storm surge," said Regan.
Business owner Stephanie Kaczmarczyk said the seawall not only protects the historic seawall, it makes the area more attractive.
"They really have done a beautiful job, you can go look at it, its now a place to walk and it makes the city of St. Augustine safer," Stephanie Kaczmarczyk, Marion Motor Lodge.
Connell said his customers had trouble parking because of the construction for the last few years, but now foot traffic is steady to his business.
"It has already had a positive impact. We're happy to see the parking opening up. More people are coming in," said Connell.
Regan said the old seawall has become a bench and will be preserved as a part of the city's history.
Seventy-five percent of the project was funded by FEMA and 25 percent was paid by the city's general fund.