Traffic concerns expressed about 24-hour drive-thru for proposed Dunkin’ Donuts at former Golden Nugget site in Old Irving Park
by BRIAN NADIG
At an Aug. 15 virtual community meeting hosted by Alderwoman Ruth Cruz (30th), several Old Irving Park residents expressed traffic concerns about a proposed Dunkin’ Donuts with a 24-hour drive-through facility on the site of the former Golden Nugget restaurant, 4229 W. Irving Park Road.
The former 24-hour pancake house closed last year. It had been open for about 50 years and was well known for its late-night hours until the pandemic.
Plans call for the Dunkin’ at 4313 W. Irving Park Road, where there is no drive-through, to close if the proposed one were built.
“We want what’s best for our quality of life,” resident Anna Sobor said. “(This proposal) kills the pedestrian nature of that block. … It’s hard to cross the street as it is.”
Sobor said that the area already is congested given the proximity of the Irving Park YMCA at 4251 W. Irving Park Road, the Engine Company 69 firehouse at 4017 N. Tripp Ave. and Kennedy Expressway ramps.
Resident Matthew Beaudet said that a drive-through facility would not bring “value to the community” and that a planned right-turn only sign for cars exiting from the site onto Irving Park cannot be enforced by police since the restriction would apply to vehicles leaving private property. (Beaudet also is the city buildings commissioner, but he was speaking at the meeting as a private citizen.)
Under the proposal the the eastern portion of the former Golden Nugget would be removed to allow for a drive-through facility. The drive-through lane would be accessible only from Tripp Avenue, which runs one-way south, and vehicles would have to exit onto Irving Park via a new curb cut.
The drive-through lane would accommodate up to seven vehicles, and there would be four on-site parking spaces. It is not clear how customers who park on the site would exit, as they may have to merge into the drive-through lane and then turn onto Irving Park.
Plans call for the indoor dining room to be open from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m., with the drive-through open 24 hours.
However, owner Max Purohit said that he would be open to reduced hours for the drive-through. He added that reflective mirrors and signage could be added to improve pedestrian and traffic safety at the Irving Park exit.
Project attorney Nick Ftikas said that “a pork chop” type structure could be installed at the exit in an effort to help force vehicles to turn right. Some residents also suggested a concrete median be installed on Irving Park, blocking left-turn access.
Several residents expressed concerns that traffic would back up on Tripp during the morning rush.
Project representative Ashley Purohit said that the store’s “speed of service”‘should help to prevent backups but that parking restrictions on Tripp near the driveway could be considered.
Several residents praised the Purohit family for how they operate their store at 4313 W. Irving Park, including one man who thanked them for their donations to a local school.
Some residents said that they welcome the project because it would activate a vacant building.
One resident said that traffic congestion, especially during the morning rush, should be expected in an urban setting.
The proposed donut shop would be larger than the nearby store, and outdoor seating is being planned. Shrubs and four trees would be planted on the 7,600-square-foot site under the proposal.
There are no plans to include a Baskin Robbins, which often share space with a Dunkin’ Donuts. The shop would measure about 2,000 square feet.
The site’s B3-1 zoning allows for restaurants, but a special use from the Zoning Board of Appeals is required for the drive-through. The board acts independently of the City Council, and it is not unusual for the board to vote against the wishes of a local alderperson.
“We are in the early stages (of the development proposal),” Cruz said.
Cruz said that updates about zoning board maters are included in the ward newsletter. Residents can receive the newsletter by sending their e-mail address to firstname.lastname@example.org