The future of the fire-damaged McDonald’s building that has languished for one year at Broadway and 12th Avenue may or may not be finalized following Thursday’s Metro Planning Commission meeting.
But one thing is certain: McDonald’s will not look for another Gulch-area site on which to construct a new facility.
“We are committed to the site,” said Frank Brewster, McDonald’s regional development director.
Since the December 2011 fire, McDonald’s and Metro Planning Department officials have discussed the site, on which the outdated and deteriorating building sits. (Read more here.) McDonald’s is appealing Metro’s Downtown Code, which requires new construction to be done in an urban model — in short, with buildings that accommodate pedestrians as much, if not more, than motorists. Previously, the Downtown Code Design Review Committee disapproved a modification request for elimination of the required setback.
If the planning commission grants a variance from the code, McDonald’s could raze the existing building and construct a contemporary replacement on the exact footprint. (A photo of the pre-fire-damaged building is seen here in this image courtesy of Google Maps.)
As written, the code requires McDonald’s to either 1. demolish the existing structure and construct a new building that would not be surrounded by asphalt parking and, instead, be positioned fronting the sidewalk; or 2. rehab the existing structure such that it once again looks like the French-fried-roofed variation that the fast food company is fazing out.
Regardless of Thursday's commission decision, Brewster said McDonald’s will remain at the site for the long haul. The company likes the site's visability and proximity to downtown, the Gulch and the inner-interstate loop.
“We have a land lease with significant remaining terms,” he said. “It’s a site we don’t want to walk away from.”
To bolster its efforts, McDonald’s has hired local attorney Tom White, with Tune Entrekin & White.
Brewster said the site is compact. As such, and with traffic concerns a consideration, physically positioning the building at the sidewalk would not allow the structure to effectively accommodate the double drive-thru the company wants.
Metro Planning Department staff members have countered that McDonald’s has in other cities buildings that minimize the visual ugliness of excessive asphalt. An example is a McDonald’s in Oklahoma City’s Bricktown.
However, Brewster said the comparison is not necessarily accurate as the OKC and Nashville sites are not physically the same size.
“We simply want the opportunity to be heard based on the site’s layout,” he said of Thursday’s commission meeting.
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