Wendy’s 5 Points design in question

Wendy’s 5 Points design in question

Critics feel character too modern for historic district

The 5 Points Wendy’s restaurant located at 2006 Park Street is a 42-year-old neighborhood icon, albeit a tired one, and soon that icon will sport a fresh, new look.

In keeping with a corporate move, which began in 2012 to overhaul the look of its restaurants, Wendy’s has offered its franchises financial assistance in investing in renovations that will move the brand from the image of a fast-food hamburger stand to a comfortable restaurant.

Built in 1974 on property owned by brothers Frederick and Daniel Bowen, the 5 Points Wendy’s franchisee is Meritage Hospitality Group, which also owns at least 24 other Wendy’s in Jacksonville, including the newly-renovated restaurant at 2001 Hamilton Ave., west of Roosevelt Boulevard.

Although the 5 Points Wendy’s was destined for its own makeover, the schedule was bumped up when District 14 Councilman Jim Love filed a bill [2016-366] in June, which would have put restrictions on planned unit developments (PUDs) to require a minimum of two acres.

The property is 0.36 acres, which would fall under the two-acre minimum if the bill had gone into effect as planned in July. However, Love withdrew the bill in August and proposed a new bill [2016-580], which did not include the two-acre minimum for PUDs. That bill was subsequently withdrawn in November.

In the meantime, Steve Diebenow, attorney for the property owner, submitted a request to rezone the property from Commercial Community/General-1 (CCG-1) to PUD, “in order to continue the successful operation of a Wendy’s restaurant located at 2006 Park Street.”

At a public meeting hosted by Riverside Avondale Preservation Nov. 10, Diebenow stated the PUD was filed to “hold the property owners’ rights,” although by law a restaurant and a drive-thru are permitted, and the parking meets code, so a PUD was not necessary. He also noted landscaping was deficient, which could be addressed through an administrative deviation. There is not enough space for a five-foot landscape buffer at the back of the property without losing parking.

Jennifer Hewett-Apperson, a certified urban planner and director of district services for Downtown Vision, Inc., questioned the need for a PUD, suggesting the applicant instead file an administration deviation. Diebenow responded that the applicant would consider it, however a PUD would allow for deviations from the proposed designs.

Raze and rebuild

Rather than renovating the façade, the 5 Points Wendy’s will be razed and a new restaurant and drive-thru will be built on the site, according to Andy Blackburn, an Atlanta-based construction manager for The Wendy’s Company, who attended the meeting.

The proposed design is a modern building featuring lounge chairs, Wi-Fi, flat screen TVs and digital menu boards. The restaurant will seat 40 diners indoors and 12 outside, with 17 off-street parking spaces, including one ADA-accessible space.

At the community meeting, Blackburn displayed examples of other renovated or rebuilt Wendy’s restaurants, which feature box-like shapes of glass and wood and Wendy’s iconic red signage. Many of the attendees were not impressed, citing the historic nature of 5 Points as a reason to go back to the drawing board.

Jo Miller, of Avondale, pointed out the company modified its St. Augustine restaurant to fit that historic city, but Blackburn said at that time the design was negotiable. Now that Wendy’s has committed to major revamping of its stores to improve market share, they are not as willing to change the ultra-modern, suburban design. Blackburn said he would ask the design team to take another look at the exterior.

A public hearing was opened at the Nov. 15 Land Use and Zoning Committee meeting, however there were no speakers. LUZ will hold another public hearing on the issue Tuesday, Dec. 6, at City Hall.

The proposed PUD was initially on the Nov. 17 agenda for the Planning Commission, but was deferred while Wendy’s considers the opinions offered at the community meeting. As of press time, there was no notices for hearings before the Planning Commission, or City Council.

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

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