Home » McDonald’s on Grand » Recent Articles:

Recall of Ald. Florida Has Begun!

Start of RecallLast night, following the Gravois Park Neighborhood Association Meeting, residents of the 15th ward began signing a petition to recall Ald. Jennifer Florida. Ald. Florida was not present at the meeting where residents shared their displeasure over the proposed relocation of a McDonald’s to their neighborhood.

To be successful a total of 1,409 signatures of current 15th Ward registered voters will need to be collected. This represents 20% of the registered voters in the ward as of the last Mayoral election held in April 2005. Only 615 voters cast ballots for Florida in April 2005.

I will be checking with the organizers periodically to report the when and where on how to assist with the recall effort.

– Steve


Wi-Fi & Armchairs Do Not Make McDonald’s Upscale

McDonald’s is attempting a makeover of its plastic interior and red roofs according to a new story in BusinessWeek:

The dining area will be separated into three sections with distinct personalities. The “linger” zone will offer comfortable armchairs, sofas, and Wi-Fi connections. “The focus is on young adults who want to socialize, hang out, and linger,” says Dixon. Brand consultant Robert Passikoff, president of Brand Keys, a brand consulting firm, says that Starbucks has raised the bar: “A level has been set by Starbucks, which offers the experience of relaxed chairs and a clean environment where people feel comfortable hanging out even if it’s just over a cup of coffee.”

The “grab and go” zone will feature tall counters with bar stools for customers who eat alone; plasma TVs will offer them news and weather reports. And in the “flexible” zone, families will have booths featuring fabric cushions with colorful patterns and flexible seating. The new design allows different music to be targeted to each zone.

It has not been said if the proposed McDonald’s on Grand has all the new elements described above. Even if it does, it won’t compensate for what we see on the outside: excessive parking, noisy drive-thru lane, glaring parking lot lights and continual litter problems. It is understandable that residents adjacent to the proposed site don’t want a McDonald’s as a neighbor.

Some have asked what the big deal is, that it is just moving across the street. Is it really that simple? Of course not. Those who think this is such a great idea most likely don’t live backed up to a drive-thru. The real issue is this section of Grand has been wounded for decades with such establishments. We are now at a make or break point of continuing down that suburban path or re-urbanizing the street. McDonald’s has been around for a while so I can see allowing them to rebuild on their current site but I see no reason for us to allow them to relocate to a different site. If forced to, McDonald’s can make the current site work by adding a retaining wall.

The next Gravois Park Neighborhood Association meeting will be tomorrow, Tuesday May 9, 2006 at 6pm. The meeting is held at the St. Matthew United Church of Christ, 2613 Potomac St. at Jefferson Avenue (map). Look for lively discussion of the McDonald’s issue.

– Steve


State Rep. Mike Daus Sets The Record Straight

State Representative Mike Daus has sent a letter to the City’s Board of Adjustment regarding the McDonald’s controversy. A letter he wrote in October supporting Pyramid’s proposed senior housing project was characterized in February’s conditional use zoning hearing as supporting the McDonald’s drive-thru. Here is the text of Daus’ letter from yesterday:

Sharon Cunningham, Chair
Board of Adjustment
City Hall, Room 400
1200 Market
St. Louis, MO 63103

Dear Chair and Members of the Board of Adjustment:

It has been brought to my attention that a letter I wrote on October 3, 2005 regarding tax credits for the South Grand Senior Apartment Project has been entered into the public record as a letter of support for the possible relocation of a McDonaldÂ’s at Grand and Winnebago.

The letter clearly does not support, nor was it intended to support, the construction of a McDonaldÂ’s at the corner of Winnebago and Grand.

I am asking that the Board of Adjustment amend the public record to clarify that the letter was not a letter of support for the McDonaldÂ’s relocation to Grand and Winnebago.


Mike Daus
Missouri State Representative
District 67

cc : Mayor Slay
Senator Coleman
Alderwoman Jennifer Florida
Alderman Craig Schmidt
Alderman Fred Wessels, HUDZ Committee Chairman
Ms. Rita Ford, Gravois Park Neighborhood Association President

I have to wonder how his letter, and similar letters from Sen. Coleman and Mayor Slay, got interpreted as supporting the drive-thru. First, these three letters got submitted for the hearing via Scott Nixon of Pyramid Companies, not Ald. Jennifer Florida. In re-reading some of the documents I received on a Sunshine Law request I see what he wrote:

In relation to the conditional use permit application for the above referenced address, attached are copies of support letters for Pyramid’s development at the corner of Grand and Chippewa.

So Nixon, of Pyramid, made it clear in his letter these letters were in support of a project that was not the topic of the hearing (view Nixon’s letter). Still, in the hearing, no attempt was made by anyone from Pyramid or Ald. Jennifer Florida to correct the record when the person conducting the hearing, Ms. Madga Vargo, indicated during the drive-thru hearing she had letters of support from these elected officials.

Several options exist. Ms. Vargo assumed the letters were in support of the drive-thru simply because the letters were in the file. Of course, that would mean she failed to read the letters as none of them actually mention McDonald’s. Or, if you a believer in conspiracy theories, it was all part of strategy to make it look good on record with the hopes nobody would dig below the surface. You can listen to Ms. Vargo mention letters in support and opposition to the McDonald’s.

While I cannot document it, yet, I believe that Florida, Pyramid and the city’s zoning staff were all in cahoots with each other and the February 16th hearing was simply a formality.

– Steve


Ald. Florida Introduces BB39 to Amend Redevelopment Plan

Ald. Florida today introduced Board Bill #39 to amend the Gravois/Meramec/Grand redevelopment plan to allow drive-thru establishments for a single parcel — the one owned currently by Pyramid and proposed for the new McDonald’s.

Funny, Ald. Florida is the same person that said the redevelopment plan only applies if a developer is seeking tax incentives. By her own argument, the no drive-thru clause cannot be enforced on property owners if they are not seeking tax breaks. By her logic then we must believe it is the intention of hers to seek tax breaks such as a TIF or property tax abatement since she is attempting to amend the redevelopment ordinance.

It should also be noted, the LCRA board’s idea of public notice is an agenda in the lobby of 1015 Locust. No agenda online. No use of the City Journal, a publication created solely for the purpose of meeting public notice requirements. The LCRA is the board that voted on April 4th to allow the change.

The bill has had its first reading and has been assigned to the Housing, Urban Design and Zoning committee (HUDZ). The aldermen on the committee will, no doubt, rubber stamp this legislation without batting an eye if the public remains silent. I urge everyone reading this post to contact every single member of the HUDZ committee.

Here is the list:

Fred Wessels, Jr. Chair, 13th Ward
Craig Schmid, Vice-Chair, 20th Ward
Freeman Bosley, Sr., 3rd Ward
Jeffrey Boyd, 22nd Ward
Gregory Carter, 27th Ward
Stephen Conway, 8th Ward
Dionne Flowers, 2nd Ward
April Ford-Griffin, 5th Ward
Kathleen Hanrahan, 23rd Ward
Bernice Jones King, 21st Ward
Lyda Krewson, 28th Ward
Michael McMillan, 19th Ward and candidate for License Collector
Kenneth Ortman, 9th Ward (Ald. Ortman “prefers not to be contacted via email.” Hmm. So call him at 314-622-3287
Lewis Reed, 6th Ward
Matt Villa, 11th Ward
Phillis Young, 7th Ward

The main points:

  • Mention BB39, ask that they withhold support.

  • Explain this is against the wishes of the neighborhood.

  • Let them know more is at stake than a simple stop sign, they should not defer to Ald. Florida in this case.

  • Amending a redevelopment plan to the wishes of a single property owner is a slippery slope.

  • Let them know they can read more at www.nodrive-thru.com (links back to my posts).

  • Look for a committee meeting next week with a hearing around the same time. No date has been set but this committee often meets at 10am on Wednesdays.

    – Steve


    Letters of Support from Mayor Slay, Sen. Coleman and Rep. Daus

    Lost among the litter that is the McDonald’s on Grand controversy is the attempt to pass off three letters as support for the McDonald’s drive-thru. In February and again this month during public hearings on the conditional use variance for a drive-thru three letters were being passed off as supporting the project. They were in support of the senior housing on the current McDonald’s site. In fact, the word “McDonald’s” was not mentioned in any of the three.

    The letters, from Mayor Slay, State Sen. Maida Coleman and State Rep. Mike Daus were all written in October 2005 as Pyramid was seeking support from the Missouri Housing Development Commission, aka MHDC.

    But, you don’t have to take my work for it. You can read the letters yourself:

    Sen. Coleman

    Rep. Daus

    Mayor Slay

    Clearly city’s staff failed to actually read the letters when they stated they had letters of support for the project. The only other option would be that they read the letters but knowingly passed them off as letters of support on the chance that nobody would request copies under Missouri’s Sunshine Law.

    Without these letters of “support” the only people on record supporting the drive-thru for McDonald’s, Jennifer Florida and the folks from Pyramid Construction.