VOL. 129 | NO. 158 | Thursday, August 14, 2014
Developers Try Again on Proposed Highland McDonald's
By Amos Maki
The developer behind a proposed McDonald’s on Highland Avenue near the University of Memphis is making another attempt at the project.
The University Neighborhood Development Corp. is hosting a meeting Thursday, Aug. 14, with representatives of the development team to discuss a new site plan for the proposed restaurant. The meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church.
According to the most current site plan, the 5,353-square-foot restaurant building is situated along the sidewalk on Highland, and a looping drive-thru proposed earlier has been replaced with one that runs along the eastern side of the building.
The developer is going before the Board of Adjustment Aug. 27 to seek approval for several zoning variances, including for additional parking and a “blank wall” facing Highland. Office of Planning and Development staff has not yet made a recommendation on the latest site plan.
In November, developer Century Management Inc. withdrew its request for approval from the Land Use Control Board after facing opposition from city planners and neighbors.
Earlier designs of the proposed restaurant at the southeast corner of Highland Street and Southern Avenue ignited strong opposition from neighbors – including university leaders and the UNDC – because it did not comply with portions of the University District Overlay, a set of zoning regulations that promotes urban, pedestrian-friendly development.
Neighbors opposed a suburban-style loop drive-thru that Century Management said was critical for the restaurant, which was pointed diagonally toward the intersection of Highland and Southern.
Office of Planning and Development staff recommended rejecting that site plan because it did not hug the sidewalk or have enough “transparency,” or windows, both key elements in New Urbanism. OPD staff said the McDonald’s should line Highland and that the drive-thru lane be located on the building’s east side, elements included in the new site plan.