Drive-through facility to be eliminated at Gladstone Plaza; Immediate MD opening there this spring

by BRIAN NADIG

The drive-through facility at the Gladstone Plaza will be eliminated to allow for more parking and better traffic flow on the 37,000-square-foot site at Northwest Highway and Foster Avenue, according to the property’s developer, Revision Group LLC.

Plans call for Immediate MD, a 4,000-square-foot urgent care facility, to open this spring at the plaza, 5226-28 N. Northwest Highway, and Supercuts and AT&T have expressed interest in the site, which offers about 9,900 square feet of retail space. Most of the center has been vacant for the past 10 years.

The project was well-received by the 35 people who attended a March 31 community meeting hosted by Alderman John Arena (45th). While a medical use is permitted under the site’s M1-2 light manufacturing district zoning, Revision is seeking to rezone the property to B3-1 to allow for a variety of retail uses.

About $1 million worth of improvements, including recent work on installing a brick façade, is planned for the center, said project developer Scott Goldman of Revision, which purchased the property about 2 years ago. The new façade and several utility upgrades are required to help attract national tenants, he said.

AT&T is seeking to open a cell phone store in a 2,200-square-foot stand-alone building on the south end of the center, where Popeye’s Chicken and before that Burger King once operated. Potbelly Sandwiches also is interested in leasing that building, but that space will “most likely” go to AT&T, Goldman said.

Some residents at the meeting expressed disappointment that Potbelly, a national chain that specializes in toasted sub sandwiches, soups and milkshakes, may not be part of the project. The Potbelly restaurant would not have a drive-through facility.

Arena said that the “good news” is that Potbelly has expressed interest in the Gladstone Park and Jefferson Park area. “If we don’t land them here, the conversation won’t end here,” he said. “We all know we have other storefronts to fill.”

The planed removal of the drive-through lane will allow for the an increase from 20 to 30 parking spaces on the site, the widening of an existing driveway on Northwest Highway and the installation of additional landscaping, Goldman said.

Former plaza tenants complained that access to the center was difficult due to traffic backups on Foster and on Northwest Highway. With the elimination of the drive-through facility, the number of vehicles entering and leaving the center during peak travel times should be reduced compared to the past, according to project officials.

One resident suggested a ban on left turns into the plaza from westbound Foster due to the traffic congestion. Arena said that any recommendations on turn restrictions would come after the city Department of Transportation reviews the project and that a left-turn restriction during rush hour may be more appropriate that an all-day ban.

The plaza also includes an 8,700-square-building on the site’s west end, which runs along a railroad embankment. Immediate MD will be occupying about half of that space, while plans call for a small section of the building to be removed, Goldman said.

Also at the meeting, a woman said that the free-standing plaza sign, which is several stories tall, is “an eyesore” and should be removed.

The height of the sign is attractive to the national retailers which Revision is recruiting because they want their individual sign panel posted under the plaza’s name, Goldman said. The sign was installed when the plaza opened 30 years ago, and, according to an Arena aide, it would be difficult nowadays to obtain a permit for a new sign of similar height.

It is expected that the plaza will have three or four tenants, and plans call for it to be fully occupied by this fall, Goldman said. Efforts were made to combine the plaza with the neighboring Amoco gas station at 5210 N. Northwest Highway, but a deal could not be worked out, he said.

Arena said that he supports the requested zoning change for the project and that the improvements to the site are long overdue.

 

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