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McDonalds May Move Across Grand to Former Sears Site

A few years ago now the old Sears store on S. Grand near Chippewa became a pile of rubble. The massive parking lot to become new in-fill housing in a development known as Keystone Place by Pyramid Construction.


Fast forward today and you see more vacant lots than new houses. The city’s website says that as of August 2003 12 out of a possible 27 have been sold. But, the purpose of this post is not to critique what when wrong at this site. i’ll have to save those thoughts for another day. This post is to tell you that word on the street is McDonald’s located at the NW corner of Grand & Chippewa may move to the old Sears site at the SE corner of Grand & Winnebego.

I’m thinking if I really wanted to kick start sales of the home lots backing to this vacant parcel the very last thing I’d put there would be a McDonald’s complete with bright lights and fumes from cars in the drive-thru lane.

Alderwoman Jennifer Florida inherited the Keystone Place during redistricting a few years ago. Nothing seems to have changed.


A new McDonald’s combined with the windowless International Institute will really liven up this part of Grand – not. Why they didn’t add any windows during their renovation and, I don’t know, place an entrance on the public side of the building? I have no clue what they were thinking. The Blockbuster with front parking and Aldi across the street certainly don’t help the area.


The current McDonald’s isn’t exactly an asset. The parking lot takes up the corner and the extra wide street with right turn lane makes crossing Grand by foot a major chore. Access to the drive-thru lane is off Chippewa and a hassle for most. I can see why McDonald’s would want a better location.


So why put the McDonald’s here – on the SE corner of Grand & Chippewa on the corner of what was a former National grocery store? It is already a dreadful corner so the McDonald’s won’t make it any worse. That leaves the old Sears site a block North vacant for something more urban – with a building up to the street and any parking behind.

– Steve


Currently there are "8 comments" on this Article:

  1. Brian says:

    The City should adopt a simple land use policy of locating drive-thrus only where existing auto-oriented development is. Thus, your alternate site in front of the former grocery store would fit the bill. The vacant Gravois Wendy’s nearby (now half occupied by a dental office) would have qualified too. The most obvious alternative though is for McDonald’s to build new on their own parking lot at the corner and tear down the existing once the new opened, phasing construction on their own property. And this would avoid creating a vacant chain-style dinosaur at their current location.

    Afterall, unless majorly redesigned, many former chain locations forever look like their former use. Just look at the former Gravois Wendy’s mentioned or the former Pizza Hut turned Indian restaurant at Hampton and Fyler.

    Fortunately, the City, despite its rather suburbaneque zoning code, does recognize any new drive-thru as always requiring a conditional use permit. And thus, a public hearing is required.

    But unlike Grace Hill’s failed proposal at Grand and Iron in Holly Hills, this South Grand development in Dutchtown likely won’t attract much opposition at its hearing.

  2. Sandra Bender says:

    Those of us who live near Grand And Chippewa did oppose the Grace Hill Head Start, it was to take over the entire building, We compromised. As for Keystone Place, talk to John Steffen, he does wonderful things right? McDonalds? I would hope that it would not relocate to either corner, why move a problem from one block to the next? Alderwoman Florida had no problem putting a carwash in the rear of Keystone Place so I would think she would be excited at the prospect of a new McDonalds, please say it isn’t so.

  3. rick says:

    A similar situation exists off of Christy and Kingshighway-at the site of the Burlington Coat Factory-not in terms of a slow moving housing development, but rather, an underperforming retail center in a non-competitive location.

    What sorts of redevelopment ideas would folks recommend there?


  4. Michael Allen says:

    I used to live in the 5200 block of Sutherland and walked to the Office Depot in the Burlington Coat Factory plaza a lot. With the new and embarrasingly underoccupied strip mall at Kingshighway and Chippewa, the function of the Burlington plaza is superfluous. The time is ripe for bold new ideas. Here’s mine:

    Rebuild the lost street grid or some semblance thereof through the plaza — connect it to the neighborhood. Tear down most of the big building that used to be Venture, and run a new street smack dab in front of it. Build new apartment buildings and condos on the former parking lot area now divided into city blocks. Put some parking for the stores on top of them or under them but get rid of all surface parking in the area.

    If this wasteland was integrated into the neighborhood, more people from Southampton and Bevo would walk to the South Kingshighway and Morganford business districts.

    [Michael – thank you. You said it before I could. Like most of these generic big box wastelands the answer is put back the city street grid and reconnect the pieces. In some cases you can leave the big box in place – just add shallow spaces in front for things like a smoothie place, a newsstand , etc…

    Reconnecting to the surrounding area and creating a real environment that supports people not cars is the way to go. Southtowne is simply a newer example of what not to do.

    – Steve]

  5. Matt Huff says:

    I have had this vision for some time now of developers coming in and really connecting the great areas of “South Grand” north of Gravois and of Grand south towards Dutchtown. This stretch between is so desolate, but with the potential of the Southside National Bank building and the other buildings at the intersection of Gravois, it doesn’t seem like an impossible dream. Developments such as this McDonalds, though, will only continue the blandness (is that a word?) that exists on these blocks of Grand.

  6. rick says:

    Could the rents being sought at King/Chip be a reason for the slow absorption?


  7. Sandy says:

    The connection between Grand South Grand and Dutchtown will happen but how quickly is the question. I am able to recall the condition of the Grand and Arsenal area then and now, it didn’t happen overnight, there were disagreements, demolitions, some failures but it finally happend. (My first date was at the Shenandoah Theater. No they were not silent pictures, it was 3-D) There is a development plan for the Grand area from Gravois to I think Meramec, but it hasn’t been adheared to. It has to have the support of the Alderperson and the people that pass off on the conditional use permits. One of the next issues may be the old Melba Theater Building at Grand and Miami. The owner at one point wanted to warehouse used clothing and furniture inside for distribution. The then Alderman Schmid and nearby residents opposed the use. Someone at one point applied to use the old Amvets as a social club with a 3:00am license, another wanted to do used clothing clothing there, we were able to keep them from opening. Then came redistricting. The old National Store on the former St.Anthony’s Hospital site was a good use, and the current use as a data processing center is not ideal however it is not detrimental to the neighborhood and a good fit for awhile, I might add they clean their area and cut the grass. The old Kroger store at Grand and Keokuk became P.A.C.E elder day care which again works. These two things happened because there was a building that was available, an Alderman who held out for a good use and support from the neighborhood. All neighborhoods cycle, I lived in the West end when the homes were on the decline, in McCree Town before the highway, on the northside when there were buildings, and the Saum when it was grand and the north side when the packing houses were king. I think some areas of the north side didn’t make it back because not enough people or the people in a position to effect change stayed, I don’t see that happening here.

  8. Adam says:

    What ever happened to the former National store at Grand and Chippewa? Was it demolished? Last I read, it was an employment agency. Any photos of this National store?? Thanks!


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