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Proposed McDonald’s Siteplan Now Available Online

siteplan_thumb.jpgThanks to Missouri’s Sunshine Law I have obtained the site plan for the proposed McDonald’s on South Grand. To view a PDF version please click on the thumbnail to the right.

In reviewing the site plan we can see just how suburban this McDonald’s really is. Asphalt is the primary material on the 40,000 sq. ft. site as the building occupies only a small percentage of the total area. Forty-five regular and 2 handicap parking spaces cover much of the area. Judging by this much parking they must expect to far more popular than they are now.

Pedestrians are not given any consideration as they must walk in one of the three auto drives to get to the restaurant door. Heaven forbid someone in a wheelchair actually want to visit this McDonald’s as they must wheel all the way from the public sidewalk to the ramp on the south side of the building in the same path as cars going toward the drive-thur.

The site plan reveals two “monument” signs — one at Grand and one at Winnebego. No street trees are indicated along Winnebego and we are losing several tree spaces along Grand. No bike racks are indicated. This could not possibly be any more inappropriate for the City of St. Louis.

Ald. Jennifer Florida, in supporting this project, wrote:

“McDonald’s has been sensitive to including an urban architectural design, pedestrian friendly to the neighborhood.”

I’m not sure how Ms. Florida even remotely comes to this conclusion. What makes this, in her mind, as being urban in design or pedestrian-friendly? I’d hate to see her idea of something that is not urban and anti-pedestrian. I can come to only a few conclusions: either she is really stupid or she thinks we are. Well, I’m not stupid. I’m not buying your lines Jennifer.

Everyone involved in this project should be embarrassed for even suggesting such a thing in a fairly pedestrian area. Jennifer Florida should be laughed out of office. Mayor Slay should question why his staff hasn’t pulled the rug out from under this project. John Steffen of Pyramid should question the values of his own company if this is what they want to dump upon our neighborhoods.

– Steve


Currently there are "18 comments" on this Article:

  1. a says:

    Parking on three sides and the drive-thru lane on the 4th side–is that what I’m seeing? No wonder Florida didn’t want to show that at a public meeting.

    I also believe it boils down to Steve’s 2 possibilities–she’s stupid, or she thinks citizens are stupid. Either way, she has no business wielding the power to get something like this pushed through. She’s no better than the downtown alderman who backed the demolition of the Century. Someone needs to give these ignorant, power-mad aldermen a clue.

    Again, why do we settle for what’s pushed on us by corporate America when we are in a position to make demands for better urban options. If McDonalds is out of the neighborhood because they are a lousy franchise and don’t get the corporate welfare Florida wants to offer them, what’s the big deal? The location will be available for an enlightened business owner.

  2. scott says:

    This is disgraceful. This should be stopped. But, if it cannot be stopped, not one dime of public money should be spent. This benefits no one, but MacDonalds.

  3. Itsa Kroc says:

    An abomination! Why can’t they (at the very least) eliminate the drive in front, conslidate all the parking to the south (double-loaded) and push the building to the corner? Also, there must be some way to eliminate one of the two curb-cuts on Grand with the drive-thru exiting at Winnebago (also eliminating the drive-thru lane parallel to Winnebago).

    Why do they even want to pay for all this asphalt? You would think McDonald’s would want to use as little of the site as possible and sell what it doesn’t need to the south to someone else. They will just have to maintain it (or not in this franchisees case).

    As Steve points out, where are pedestrians supposed to approach, through the drive aisles? If they double-loaded the parking they could locate the handicapped parking next to the building so those in wheelchairs would not have to cross the drive aisle and they could have a sidewalk for pedestrians.

    This is the most ill-conceived site plan — whether urban or suburban — that I can imagine.

  4. Anthony Coffin says:

    Itsa Kroc is right, nobody should be subjected to a plan like this, not even in suburbia. Thank you Steve, I had no idea it was actualy this bad.

  5. Mike says:

    Two curb cuts, both on Grand. The building is centered on the lot. This makes no sense. This seems to be a big step back from the current arrangement, which at least has the sense to insulate Grand’s traffic and pedestians from the parking & drivethru.

  6. anomalystl says:


  7. Sam says:

    I found this funny, I emailed her after your last post regarding this subject…here is her reply:

    Dear Sam:
    The relocation of McDonald’s is only part of a comprehensive
    redevelopment plan that includes :

    redevelopment of South Side National Bank
    redevelopment of the Melba
    Relocation of McDonald’s,urban style pedestrian friendly
    Affordable residential between McDonald’s and market rate residential
    completion of market rate residential on Sears site
    3 story arcitecturally significant new construction on current McDonald’
    site w/ commercial store front

    Funding’s in place, Zoning correct. We are not always going to agree on
    development. There are more than 14,000 opinions in one neighborhood.

    Me: That piece of crap design is NOT urban. How in the hell can anyone call that urban!

  8. Julia says:

    What I would like responses to from the Alderwoman would be the following:

    – what characteristics of this project make it “urban style pedestrian friendly” as it looks like any other McD’s sited in Ballwin;

    – where the plan and/or guarantees are for the “3 story arcitecturally [sic] significant new construction” on the old McD’s site

    – how many of the acknowledged “14,000 opinions” from the surrounding neighborhoods she’s solicited because it sounds as though she’s shutting out any opinions contrary to her own

  9. Chicago Transplant says:

    It is laughable to compare these commercial two sites. The location in Chicago is arguably internationally known as the former site of the Rock n’ Roll McDonald’s, which (sadly) was an actual tourist destination for many folks. The neighborhood the fast food location is in is just north of the loop in River North, blocks from the Hancock Building, in one of the most densely populated areas in the entire United States. Additionally, Mayor Daley is generally opposed to fast food in the downtown, however, because of its “landmark” status he allowed it, but only on his terms, and McDonald’s agreed because of the insane amount of business they can make at a major intersection in one of the busiest areas of one of the nation’s largest cities – an area swarmed with employers, residents, and tourists. Considering you could argue there is not a single parcel in all of St. Louis with this type of market and certainly not as valuable, never the less the Grand location you are comparing it to, how in the world can you expect a Mayor with about 1/100 of Daley’s power to make concrete requests from a business that in all reality the city needs more than McDonald’s needs St. Louis? You may disagree, arguing to give McDonaldÂ’s the shaft and tell them to take it to the suburbs, but even though you seem to dislike McDonaldÂ’s sandwiches and architecture many residents of the City and that neighborhood will definitely patronize that business. The City is not built for one demographic. Additionally, thinking that that site could be built without parking and comparing it to the Chicago location shows little knowledge of formal planning. Meaning, one is in a neighborhood littered with skyscrappers and pedestrian traffic as the restaurant is flanked by two L stations, thus creating pedestrian traffic not seen anywhere in St. Louis, versus South Grand, which for all intensive purposes, it pretty suburban in an inner ring way (I am pretty sure the nearest Metro is miles away), and when you look at the neighborhoods in Chicago that resemble the South Grand neighborhood, alas, they look very similar to the site plan McDonald’s submitted here in St. Louis. Site planning is about context and the environment a parcel is developed in, not arbitrary preferences. I believe there is some saying about apples to apples… But with that said, this is a stock site plan and McDonaldÂ’s put no effort or creativity into their submittal and it sucks. The City doesnÂ’t need to give incentives or public money to this project (theyÂ’ll build anyways), but trying to say the Chicago location is the answer is really, truly naïve to so many relevant factors.

    [REPLY – Wow, all that in one paragraph. First, I never brought up the former rock & roll McD’s from Chicago — someone else did. I find it overblown and would not remotely want it on this site on Grand or anywhere else in St. Louis.

    As for the smaller McDonald’s it is a very good basis for a starting point. South Grand may not have a light rail stop but it is the most active bus line in the city. This area is one of the more pedestrian active areas we have — something that should be encouraged, not discouraged.

    A simple fact of planning is if we build suburban auto-oriented projects we are not going to increase the level of pedestrian activity. Conversely, if we build in a more dense & urban fashion we can potentially increase pedestrian activity on the street.

    The site deserves more than what is proposed. The Chicago & State example cited offers one possibility for moving the building up to the sidewalk and mostly concealing the drive-thru and reducing the number of curb cuts. Off-street parking could be accomodated behind the building much like what we have up the street at Arsenal. Right now Jennifer Florida, Pyramid and McDonald’s are refusing to even consider more urban alternatives.

    The only ones getting the shaft at this point are the citizens of St. Louis. And the city, through Jennifer Florida, are the ones giving us the shaft. If Jennifer Florida had told the zoning administrator the drive-thru, as designed, was unacceptable it would have been denied. Instead she chose to accept a suburban McDonald’s. – SLP]

  10. Itsa Kroc says:

    WE deserve a break today!

    Did anyone else notice that of the 200′ that fronts Grand 1/3 is used for the two 30′ curb cuts? How is this remotely “urban” or “pedestrian?” Why are 30′ curb cuts necessary when only 24′ feet is required for two-way drive lanes? Those who choose to use the sidewalk will have to run for their lives as hamburger-crazed drivers ignore anything between them and their Big Mac –epecially those making a left from Grand. They will be more preoccupied with turning across 2-lanes of Grand than whether there is anyone using the sidewalk. Pedestrians — what a nuisance!

    Also, according to the site plan both of those drives are two-way. If a car pulls into the north drive from Grand they will drive head-on into cars exiting the drive-thru. Who thought this out? The answer: NOBODY. With one-way circulation and angled parking the impact of this attrocity could be substantially mitigated while accomodating McDonald’s craving for a new drive-thru.

    “Chicago Transplant” (above) is dead-wrong. McDonald’s needs this city much more than WE need it. Florida knows this and it makes me wonder why she has not exercised her power to deny them until they do what is right for the community. Again, this use requires a variance — that variance being dependant on her support. At the zoning hearing she could have very easily given her support contigent on a few simple design changes. When companies are not called to task they will use the same model over and over again. Did Florida or Pyramid not even present alternatives to McDonald’s or exert their considerable influence? Maybe McDonald’s would have been willing to make some of these changes and weren’t even asked. All of these points still leave me with the question, what is in this for Florida? She will obviously alienate her base (decidedly pro-urban, young professionals) by continuing this pattern of development.

    Ms. Florida states in her response that this is part of a “comprehensive redevelopment plan.” I am sorry, but to somehow relate this tragedy to the wonderful reuse of SSNB and the Melba building is ludicrous and she knows it. None is contigent upon the other. As a matter of fact, I would posit that development like the McDonald’s is detrimental to futher development like the Lawrence group is doing. I wonder how they feel having invested so much in the area in manner so wonderfully opposite that which McDonald’s is proposing? I bet The Lawrence Group can’t even speak up given that any development incentives they recieve from the city on these projects are ultimately controlled by Florida. I bet they won’t be back — our loss.

    What is the pay-off Jennifer? We, your constituents, want to know. Remember, we all talk to one another so you better start dishing out some consistant and truthful answers. Also remember, we don’t have to wait four years to replace you even though you tried to make it harder to do so.

  11. Sam says:

    I think to equate the locations of Chicago and So. Grand is overlooking the issue. The issue isn’t which is busier, the issue is that So. Grand IS an urban neighborhood, thus deserving of better design. And another question, does So. Grand NEED McDonalds? Chicago Transplant seems to think so, but I disagree. If McDonalds doesn’t rebuild, and their current location gets torn down, you won’t see a bunch of people wandering the streets looking for McDonalds. After all, if it’s fast food you want, there is a White Castle, KFC, Taco Bell and Jack in the Box all with a few blocks of the McDonalds site. Not to mention several other cheap places to eat all within a short walk from that site (Subway, Q’doba, Bread Co., Wing Stop, and more).

    McDonalds needs this site, because they will make money. No matter what building they put up, they will make money. So why not force them to create a design that is a better fit for the neighborhood, ESPECIALLY with the SSNB and Melba coming soon, which should create even more pedestrian traffic.

    This is my neighborhood, I’m not going to let McDonalds and Ms. Florida decide what’s best for where I live, when most of the other residents in my neighborhood would agree with me.

  12. We need to hold street protests at City Hall if this goes through.

  13. Chicago Transplant says:

    Please do not get me wrong, everyone is making very good points and I do not think the McDonaldÂ’s would be the right fit in the way they want to use the parcel. Their site plan sucks.

    But the Chicago & State example IS the exact same site of the former Rock n’ Roll Mc’Donald’s. Everything I was saying about comparing the two sites is accurate. I believe the picture you are showing is what replaced the old, 2-story “landmark” in Chicago’s incredibly dense and extremely affluent River North neighborhood.

    Basically, 18 months ago Mayor Daley went to McDonald’s and said, “look, when you all moved in here in the 1970’s, this neighborhood was a dump. Since then, it has become one of the best urban neighborhoods in the country. Jennifer Aniston, Oprah, Vince Vaughn and John Cusack all live nearby. And because Rock n’ Roll became a little tourist attraction and people loved it, I’ve let it fly. But now the building is run-down, it’s basically a huge parking lot in the middle of this walkable skyscraper district, and I hate fast food in downtown. Here is what I will give you: tear that eyesore down and build exactly what I want, or I will condemn it, force you out, and get a 50-story luxury condo project in here in about 5 minutes.” Construction/demolition started last June and now River North has a new McDonald’s unlike ANY I’ve ever seen ANYWHERE. There is no parking at all now. That is beyond rare. And the former site-use did have parking. Daley was the one that said it had to go.

    And my point was, while St. Louis does deserve better, to simply just point at something and say “this is what we want,” without really recognizing the specific conditions and environment that lead to certain developments is arm-chair planning. Further, if we had a meeting with McDonald’s and the City of St. Louis and pointed to that picture, said this is what we would prefer, and told them where it was, when we left that meeting, they would laugh at us.

    I believe we could get closer, but there are important differences. St. Louis has about 300,000 residents. More than that many people live in that neighborhood in Chicago. Most people in South Grand live in single-family detached houses; most folks within 5 blocks of that Chicago McDonaldÂ’s live in 3-bedroom condo towers starting at $1 million, overlooking Lake Michigan and the Sears Tower from their 47th story. While I take the bus 10+ times a week, a St. Louis bus line thru south city is not two red line L stations, one of two lines left in the USA that runs 24/7/365 and carries more riders in one hour than the Metro carries in one week.

    So I agree South Grand is urban, but you all seem to think in 1948 terms that there are two different types of development: urban and suburban. There are more than two communities in America now. U City is a suburb. An inner ring suburb. Downtown Clayton is a suburb. Evanston and Oak Park near Chicago are suburbs. Wildwood is also a suburb. I think when you reference suburban development you mean ex-urban fringe and sprawl. So to say, hey, Chicago is urban, South Grand is urban, is again, arm-chair sophistication that doesnÂ’t compare apples to apples. Chicago & State is urban in the way only Manhattan is. South Grand is urban in a city borough or early 20th century suburban way. Those are the examples we need to focus on.

    Again, there are reasons why we will never get anything that even resembles that Chicago location. If you look at neighborhoods in other metros that resemble South Grand, like West Chicago, or parts of Brooklyn, or the bluffs in Cincinnati, or northwest Washington DC, unfortunately they all have two-entrance drive thru fast food locations with way more parking than they would ever need. No one ever stands up to McDonald’s because they are so eager to land the development. And while that may be the wrong approach, if St. Louis chooses to fight that battle, it better have a better plan of attack and talking points than saying “we want what replaced the Rock n’ Roll McDonald’s,” because unless Daley moves to the Lou and runs for Mayor, no one around here has that type of power to demand a brand new, uniquely original structure.

    Generally, the unofficial rule of thumb with most chain locations that build stand-alone units is three site plans. The first is always the cheapest and easiest to build with the lowest long-term maintenance costs. Basically they use cheap building materials and pave the whole parcel (no lawncare). Secondly (if the City requests something better) they use the same building but just add more landscaping. If the City still isn’t happy then they will whip out their final bulk/stock plan which is a better constructed, higher quality structure with pretty decent landscaping. Most communities are so happy after 4 months of back-and-forth, and the third site plan is usually a major improvement from the first, they give up there. But the rule is, if you can get them to submit a forth, you’ve actually made the company look at your actual site and make decisions that specifically relate to that community. Otherwise you are just getting the most recent stock engineering and architecture they just used. I think that’s what South Grand got. So we can get better, but there will be parking and it will have what you deemed “suburban” qualities.

    [REPLY – Blah blah blah. First, you are wrong. Chicago & State is not the site of the former Rock-N-Roll McDonalds. It was the site of a small, conventional McDonald’s that lacked a drive-thru. The former Rock-n-Roll McDonald’s which was transformed into this massive two-story thing is located abotu a half mile away at Clark & Ontario.

    Second, we are not Chicago. We don’t have their density. Fine. We can be the best we can be and we can only increase our density and walkability by creating the type of environment that encourages that. By building more auto-centric developments will won’t get more dense, urban or pedestrian friendly. The point is we should determine our urban destiny, not some McDonald’s standard design. – SLP]

  14. Craig says:

    Here Steve goes again, demanding that an “urban” development be built in an area where there is virtually no foot traffic and many of the houses are, as Chicago transplant points out, detached single family units.

    To equate Grand and Gravois to the south Grand neighborhood further north is very disingenuous.

    Density is not created by building projects with no parking lots or limited parking. That’s a very simple concept that Steve and many of the fanatics on this board just don’t get.

    [REPLY – Oh your posts are always good for a laugh. The housing stock adjacent to the blocks of Grand between Gravois & Chippewa has roughly the same density as the blocks between Arsenal & Utah. The difference in the feel of the area is what is built along Grand.

    Remember that where we have the Qdoba/Kinkos/BreadCo was going to originally be flipped — parking in front of the building. Thankfully the parking ended up in back. Where the Sushi place and Bontanicals is was going to be a Walgreen’s but thankfully that was fought.

    The area of Grand around the old Sears site is not a trendy pedestrian area like the area to the North, Euclid, the Loop or Washington Ave — but it does have quite a few pedestrians. I see folks walking to stores all the time. This is a good thing. At one time this area, before we tore everything down, was highly urban and pedestrian. In fact, with the large Sears store the area was more dense and urban than the area to the North.

    Open your eyes folks. We can have great pedestrian streets but we must build the right kind of buildings to do so.

    Craig you won’t it both ways. Your argument in Richmond Hts is that the people got what they wanted — let them chose the type of development they want. Well, the Gravois Park residents in this neighborhood do not want a drive-thru fast food restaurant. They want more urban development. It is the developer and Alderwoman that are not listening to them. If you believe your own point you’d be agreeing with them to oppose the McDonald’s. – SLP]

  15. Sam says:

    I brought up this issue at our latest meeting of St. Louis Urban Progress, we are planning on contacting the Lawrence Group (who is doing the SSNB) to see if they are aware of the situation. Lawrence is responsible for a lot of development going on in the city, and could have some pull. STLUP is planning a meeting in the near future to discuss our options in attacking this development.

    Craig, you’re missing the point. That neighborhood south of what most consider the tradition So. Grand Retail center COULD be a very high pedestrian area. But projects like this will only limit the ability of the neighborhood to grow. So why not start here, build up the neighborhood? With the SSNB, the Melba, and other projects on the move, this could become a very vibrant urban setting. But if we allow new development to hold the area back, it never will.

  16. Craig says:

    I never said that an “urban” McDonalds should not be built in the Grand/Gravois area. My point was that I would not expect an urban McDonalds in this location spurring more urban development. That would be putting the proverbial cart before the horse.

    If the folks who live in the area want an urban McDonalds (and that is undecided–the only opinion I have seen is that of the busybodies in the neighborhood association), that is fine. My guess is that the increased costs associated with such an urban design would simply drive away the franchise owner, leaving another lifeless parcel in the sagging area around Grand/Gravois.

    [REPLY – Well Craig, for once I’ll agree with you. An urban McDonald’s will not spur any new urban development. However, an urban McDonald’s will have a better chance of not discouraging urban development the way a new suburban McD most certainly would.

    We’ve not established that an urban McDonald’s would cost anymore than a suburban McDonald’s. I’m trying to eliminate one curb cut on Grand, reduce paving and other items. I’d like to see a good 1/3 to 1/2 the site be used for another project which would actually give the owner a better return on his investment. – SLP]

  17. ex-STL says:

    I understand the need for a company to “brand” but at what point does an icon become an albatross?

    Is McDonald’s not so deeply imbedded in the public consciousness that there’s any question who they are? Where they screwed up was when some marketing genius suggested they mess with the menu about 10 years ago, not when they’ve played with the architecture (no fan of the food, but hey gotta recognize it’s successful).

    Sometime in the 80’s they built several experimental restaurants, I believe SITE was responsible for one, that were very interesting and playful, the one in Union Station in DC is another.

    anyway, why drop an exurban McD ON S. Grand? No need to draw up a new site plan or consider the context. My point is the brand is solid, who really cares what the building is? Why can’t it be more than the standard, how much more expensive woulld it be to specify something other than the typical fake brick? why not fake something else? Why the island in asphalt, why not a peninsula? or an isthmus?The riverboat McD’s was fairly successful and that had no drive thru or even parking for that matter – it responded to the context.

    That’s the issue – it could be anywhere and all of you want to be somewhere.

    and you are. for now anyway.

  18. ex-STL says:

    esp. ironic if you consider this article from about ’94



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