Northland Community Council development committee members gave their approval last week to two requests, one that allows McDonald's to go ahead with totally remodeling a store on Cleveland Avenue and another that will permit some old apartment buildings to stay right where they are.
The McDonald's restaurant at 6221 Cleveland Ave., which has come before the advisory panel for several variances in the past year, was back again, this time for a rezoning request that would permit a major remodeling.
Lynsey Ondecker of GCP Group again represented McDonald's USA LLC.
The construction, during which the fast-food location would remain open, is in keeping with the "new brand for McDonald's," Ondecker said. The work would include a 12-foot addition to the front of the building, a wider kitchen and an area at the back for more freezer space, she indicated.
One needed variance due to site configurations is a 40-foot setback instead of the 60 feet required by city code, for the front expansion. The company also wants to reduce the parking lot distance from the public right of way along Community Park Drive from 10 feet to four feet.
"When completed, it looks like a brand new building," Ondecker said of the new McDonald's design.
The updated look and feel of the interior, with flat-screen televisions, free Wi-Fi and more dining space, is intended to get more people to eat inside the restaurant and stay there longer rather than use the double drive-through lanes, she added.
The drive-through reconfiguration was one of the earlier variances sought.
The previously approved variances and the total remodel, which should begin at the end of April, will take 20 to 30 days and all be done at once, Ondecker said.
Committee members had no real concerns with this request, Chairman Dave Paul said. The main area of discussion during deliberations, he added, was about the reduced setback along Community Park Drive, but that issue evaporated once it was realized the restaurant would put in a new sidewalk, which the members of the panel regard as a "significant improvement," Paul said.
In the second case, attorney Donald Plank appeared on behalf of C and G Investments Associates LLP to request reductions in setback lines and perimeter yard requirements for some apartment buildings at 1688 Red Robin Road off Tamarack Boulevard in the Forest Park neighborhood.
The need for the variances was discovered during a survey that was part of a refinancing project for the apartments, according to Plank.
On one side of the complex, the variance needed from the required setback ranges from a foot and a half to half a foot. This might have resulted from errors made during construction in 1970, he said.
On another side, the variance request is for as much as nine feet, and resulted from city officials subsequently approving construction of an adjacent street, he said.
"In the city's defense, oftentimes roads are widened and they go into the setback," Plank added. "It's not uncommon for that to happen."
The hardship for his client, he indicated, is the difference between getting a variance and having to tear down the encroaching structures.
Committee members had no problem with recommending the Board of Zoning Adjustment approve the request at the end of the month, Paul said.
"There was really no particular question and concern on the part of the committee," he said. "They understood it was just a paper variance."
Both votes were 11-0.