Board OKs 3-restaurant plan after near impasse

A Chick-fil-A is part of the proposed Greenfield Market development at 2203 N. State St. (Submitted image)

GREENFIELD — A stalemate brewed over a city design requirement for a proposed restaurant complex, but the developer agreed to the condition after officials held firm.

The Greenfield Plan Commission on Monday, July 12, approved a proposal for three fast-food restaurants — Chick-fil-A, Chipotle and Panera Bread — that Midland Atlantic Properties’ Indianapolis office wants to bring to 2203 N. State St. The site is north of Steak ‘n Shake and south of Circle K.

A right-in, right-out will make the property accessible for northbound State Street traffic. Due to the new medians on State Street, access for southbound traffic will be from Martindale Drive and New Road to Barrett Drive, from which vehicles will be able to enter and exit the site at four different points.

“Fortunately, the area is built with Barrett Drive to the east, which provides a great frontage road that gets access from Martindale to the north and New Road to the south,” said Greenfield planning director Joan Fitzwater at the plan commission’s meeting Monday night.

Midland Atlantic Properties’ proposal came with 19 modifications and conditions regarding city standards, which the firm agreed to or worked out with officials at the plan commission meeting.

One matter that wasn’t quickly settled, however, was over a city requirement for windows on 45% of building facades that face streets. Faux windows are also accepted.

Chick-fil-A has to be positioned with its drive-thru facing State Street in order to achieve the stacking it needs — two lanes with a total capacity of 43 vehicles. Midland Atlantic Properties’ submitted plans don’t include windows on Chick-fil-A’s drive-thru side other than the one for interacting with customers.

“Windows will add visual interest and give the same appearance as the south and east facades,” reads the plan commission’s staff report on the proposed development.

Plans for the rear facades of Chipotle and Panera facing Barrett Street are also windowless. Fitzwater said she understands restaurant equipment will likely be up against those walls, making a real window impractical, which is why she recommended faux windows.

“Something to at least make this look less like the rear of a fast-food restaurant, since it’s facing Barrett (Drive),” she said.

Aaron Boyle, managing principal for Midland Atlantic Properties, countered that the windows would mean more cost and maintenance, He also said the windows wouldn’t be seen under Chick-fil-A’s drive-thru canopy; would compromise the corporate buildings’ specific identities; and would likely be the only windows on the backs of buildings in the area. Fitzwater said while his last point may be true, it’s the result of an updated code that aims to correct past oversights.

“But if it gets you your approval, wouldn’t it be worth it?” plan commission member Gary McDaniel asked Boyle after a lengthy discussion. “…We’re almost at a standstill here.”

Boyle replied with a concession.

“If you’re telling us we’re not going to get approval without faux windows, I kind of feel like we’ll figure out how to do faux windows,” he said.

Fitzwater said further modifications are allowed to come before the plan commission before construction, and Midland Atlantic Properties could propose one in lieu of the windows. City code states modifications should result in a similar or higher quality product, improve affordability or structural integrity, and/or maintain cohesion with the surrounding neighborhoods.

The plan commission voted 7-1 to approve the proposal’s development plan and subdivide the property into three lots — one for each restaurant. Chick-fil-A will be on the north side of the property, Chipotle will be on the south, and Panera will be between the two. Kristi Baker, Becky Riley, Steve Cooper, Gary McDaniel, Jason Koch, David Spencer and Mike Terry voted in favor.

“I don’t think our code is too strict,” McDaniel said.

Koch agreed.

“I think it’s just right,” he said.

Jeff McClarnon was the commission’s sole nay vote, and he said he couldn’t support the proposal without knowing whether the restaurant chains agreed with what the city and plan commission were asking for.

“Everybody in this town wants a Chick-fil-A,” McClarnon told Boyle before the vote. “Man! They’re willing to lay down to get a Chick-fil-A. You add a Panera, and you’re almost home. But I feel like you got a lot of balls in the air here that aren’t completely done, and they’re not taken care of. They’re situations that are not taken care of yet, and I’m not in a mind to approve it myself, as the way it sits right now.”

Plan commission member Paulette Richardson was not present.

Fitzwater said the proposal was the result of about a year of working with Midland Atlantic Properties.

“I do believe that we have done the best that we can and come up with a plan that actually works and does answer all of our safety concerns, our beautification concerns, and the desire of the community for fast, convenient, national food chains,” she said.

Boyle agreed the project has required a lot of time and effort.

“There’s a lot going on on this site,” he said. “These restaurants are really excited to be here, but they’re all very particular, very good at what they do, and they all know exactly what they want. So it was sort of like a Rubik’s Cube. … Every time we made one change, it changed others.”

Midland Atlantic Properties hopes to start construction next month and deliver the properties to the tenants in March or April 2022.

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Greenfield Market

  • Chick-fil-A
  • Chipotle Mexican Grill
  • Panera Bread
  • 2203 N. State St.
  • Developer: Midland Atlantic Properties