McDonald’s OK’d by the Planning Commission
Work on the Golden Arches plans expected to begin ‘immediately.’
Work is expected to begin “immediately” on a McDonald’s at the corner of Woodward and Detroit avenues, at the location of the former Detroit Theatre.
That news comes after Thursday’s approval by the Lakewood Planning Commission to allow the fast-food giant to combine two parcels of land at the site. The commission also granted McDonald’s a conditional use permit to allow an accessory parking lot in a residential district — at the rear of the property.
That didn’t sit well with many of the nearly 100 people packed into Lakewood Auditorium — many of whom opposed the plans from the beginning.
Neighbors say they are concerned about the increased traffic and safety issues they expect following the construction of a double drive-thru McDonald’s — with its proposed two entrances and two exits on Woodward Avenue, a residential street of more than 100 homes.
In a moment of tension, members of the commission went silent for about 45 seconds when asked by chairman Tom Einhouse for a motion on the issue. The silence was broken when commission members agreed to add some stipulations to the conditional use permit.
McDonald’s must complete another traffic study within one year of opening; install a sign that will not allow right turns on Woodward Avenue; and may be required to install a barrier should motorists ignore the signs.
Commission members Tamara Karel and Ruth Anne Gillette were absent from the meeting, but their votes didn’t matter. The remaining members unanimously approved the plans.
One by one, about a dozen residents addressed the commission, citing concerns over the project.
Fran Storch — a 28-year resident of Woodward Avenue who organized a recent protest of the Golden Arches on her street — said there are other drive-thrus in the city on residential streets.
“The difference is that this is McDonald’s — so it’s 18 hours a day,” she said, pointing out the there’s often a backup in the drive-thru at the Dunkin Donuts up the street.
But only in the morning.
“We’re talking about McDonald’s,” Storch said. “They do a huge amount of business. We don’t want the drive-thru exits on our side streets. These people have great architects and people working for them. I am sure they can come up with something better.”
About six representatives from McDonald’s were also on hand to answer questions.
They agreed to be good neighbors, noting that the company would pay a share of the proposed traffic signal at the intersection.
Mike Lewis, area real estate manger for McDonald’s, said the company has not yet purchased the building — which was listed for $695,000.
But the work to file the building applications and permits will begin “immediately.” The purchase of the property is expected afterward.
Construction could begin within the next couple months, he said.
“We haven’t had a timeline established yet," said Lewis. "We were waiting for the outcome of this."
"We understand the public’s concerns and we feel at the end of the day that this will be a good project for everybody.”
The building — at 16409 Detroit Avenue — has been on the market for years but gained little interest. With declining attendance in an industry that has struggled to remain financially viable, the Detroit Theatre closed the curtain earlier this year after 87 years.
Lakewood Mayor Michael Summers addressed the commission, encouraging members to approve the plans. He reiterated an earlier statement that to change the zoning code would only invite a lawsuit — one the city would likely not win.
“Our schools and our local governments are under significant financial pressure to keep the services that we enjoy today,” he said. “We must take these proposals very seriously and work very hard to make them successful in Lakewood. If we turn our backs on opportunities such as this one, we will also signaling to future investors a lukewarm reception at best.”