McDonald’s Moving Near Gonzaga, Neighbors Not ‘Lovin’ It’

By Paige Browning

The super-sized restaurant chain McDonald’s has planned a new location near Gonzaga University. That came as a surprise to neighbors, who found out in February.
 
Driving down Hamilton street past Safeway grocery, you’ll see a backhoe moving dirt under a brand new McDonald’s sign. The company chose this spot for a new drive-thru only location, adding to just a handful of its drive-thru only restaurants in the world.
 
The neighborhood is not ‘lovin’ it’. Karen Byrd leads the Logan Neighborhood planning group,
 
Byrd: “This development is the exact opposite of what we were planning for. Our vision of the Hamilton corridor is one that promotes a vibrant pedestrian environment… a place where people go to, rather than go through.”
 
Byrd acknowledges the road gets a lot of vehicle traffic now, as you can hear in the background. Council member Amber Waldref sat down with Byrd and McDonald’s representatives this month to explain why a sit-down restraurant would better serve the neighborhood. She says in the past seven years all new developments on Hamilton have abided by the goal of making it more pedestrian friendly.
 
Waldref: “It’s going to take many years to revitalize this area, new codes, new regulations. And unfortunately McDonald’s got in under the wire.”
 
The city planning department did give a permit to McDonald’s, last spring. There wasn’t much of an option. Waldref says the fast-food chain found loopholes in the city code. In the next few months, Waldref says the city council will review the city code to prevent similar developments in other neighborhoods. That could require buildings to be brought to the sidewalk to give a main street store-front feel.
 
Now state Senator Andy Billig is involved. He requested that the company halt construction.
 
Billig: “And they actually did say that they would pause construction next week for a dialogue, but are very clear that it’s not with the open mind to potentially change the design of the building.”
 
Allison Hazen, with the development group who helped McDonald’s get it’s permit, says they did make adjustments to the plan to better meet neighborhood needs. She says the restaurant will have an outdoor patio, and actually gave up a few feet of property for the city to use as a wide pedestrian sidewalk.
 
Neighbors are reminded of just how soon burgers will be flipping next door by the sign that reads “Come See Us in June”.
 
Copyright 2014 Spokane Public Radio
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