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Bridgeport, Chinatown, McKinley Park

Plan To Relocate Dunkin’ Donuts To ‘Treacherous Corner’ Is Met With Pushback From McKinley Park Alderman, Residents

Ald. George Cardenas said the Zoning Board of Appeals “erroneously” listed the project in the wrong ward and approved a special-use permit. Now, he's vowing to block it until he gets more feedback.

Under the plan, developer Raina Archer, LLC would relocate the existing Drunkin’ Donuts inside the 35th/Archer CTA station to a lot near the corner of Archer and Leavitt.
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MCKINLEY PARK — A plan to relocate a Dunkin’ Donuts to a congested corner of McKinley Park received pushback from the alderman and neighbors, who said a drive-thru would make the area more dangerous. 

Under the plan, developer Raina Archer would move the Dunkin’ Donuts inside the 35th/Archer Orange Line station to a lot near the corner of South Archer Avenue and South Leavitt Street. While the plan does not require a zoning change, it does require a special-use permit for the drive-thru, officials said.

Ald. George Cardenas (12th) said at a virtual meeting Wednesday the developer circumvented his office when getting a special-use permit to make way for the Dunkin’ Donuts at 3542-3560 S. Archer Ave. 

Last year, site owner Sanjeev Khatau received permit approval from the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Cardenas said the Zoning Board of Appeals “erroneously” listed the project in the wrong ward and approved a special-use permit. Now, building permits issued previously for the project have been “voided” until the plan can be vetted by the community, Cardenas said at the meeting.

Zoning attorney Nick Ftikas, who represents Raina Archer, outlined the plan for a 1,350-square-foot Dunkin’ Donuts that would include a single drive-thru lane. The lot would preserve 29 off-street parking spaces. The franchise would be open 6 a.m.-3 a.m. daily, and the drive-thru lane would operate 24 hours a day.

The location would bring 20 employees to the site with a goal to hire from the neighborhood, the development team said.

Ftikas said the plan would improve the corner with landscaping.

The team worked with the Chicago Department of Transportation and the Department of Planning and Development to meet all city codes and standards, the development team said.

But Cardenas said there was “a major issue with cross-departmental coordination” in the city, allowing for the approval of the permit without engaging community.

Neighbors and Cardenas said the Archer and Leavitt intersection is a “treacherous corner” in McKinley Park, and adding a drive-thru would increase traffic and make it more dangerous.

From 2013-2017, there were 18 car crashes at the intersection, including one crash that involved a bicyclist and another involving a pedestrian, Cardenas said.  

McKinley Park resident Cristina Martinez said she was concerned about the safety of pedestrians crossing the corner. And the plan goes against the neighborhood’s goal of becoming more pedestrian-friendly, she said.

“I’ve been almost hit several times,” Martinez said. “My neighbor was hit by a car there … and he died as a result of those injuries.”

Cardenas said the plan for the Dunkin’ Donuts doesn’t align with the vision of community members, who have identified the location as a potential site for transit-oriented development. The spot would be “perfect” for a walkable, mixed-use development since its near an Orange Line station, he said.

Ftikas said the site can’t be used for transit-oriented development because the Family Dollar there has a 10-year lease that was inherited by Khatau, Ftikas said. Because of the lease, they wouldn’t be able to create a larger development, Ftikas contended.

Instead, their goal is to “revitalize the corner as a starting point,” Ftikas said.

One McKinely Park resident, who is also a Dunkin’ Donus employee, supported the plan for the relocation, but the move was largely opposed by people attending the virtual meeting.

Cardenas said nothing will happen at the site until he receives additional feedback from neighbors.

“We have some work to do … . There is no way that this is going to be the finished product,” Cardenas said.

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