A third project has been approved for the Gateway Commerce Center at Hanson Boulevard in Coon Rapids.
The Coon Rapids City Council Sept. 3 approved an amendment to Gateway’s planned unit development to allow a restaurant with a drive-through instead of a drug store on one of the parcels as well as a final plat.
The Coon Rapids Planning Commission last month approved a site plan for a McDonald’s restaurant on the site at the southwest corner of Hanson Boulevard and Gateway Drive, north of Highway 10. The commission also recommended approval of the planned unit development change.
The council approved the Gateway Commerce Center development back in 2007 and in 2011, the Holiday convenience store and gas station was the first project to be constructed in the commerce center.
A multi-tenant building is now under construction in the Gateway Commerce Center.
Mayor Tim Howe was concerned that the council’s vision for the Gateway Commerce Center was to have sit-down restaurants rather than a fast-food restaurant.
But he was assured by Planner Scott Harlicker that there are three vacant parcels in the development designated for sit-down restaurants.
Howe said he would vote for the McDonald’s project in hopes of providing an impetus to development in the commerce center.
Councilmember Bruce Sanders thought McDonald’s would be a good fit on the corner lot since the original development plan was for a drug store with a drive-through window, he said.
He, too, saw the McDonald’s project as a spur to future development, Sanders said.
McDonald’s would not have wanted to locate at this site unless it saw a market for doing so, he said.
According to Harlicker, McDonald’s is proposing to construct a 79-seat restaurant with a drive-through window and 51 parking spaces in addition to the drive-through lanes.
The building fits with the architectural guidelines established when the council approved the Gateway Commerce Center planned unit development, complete with brick and stone exterior and walls that include windows and awnings to add visual interest, Harlicker wrote in his report to the council.
“The color palette is earth tones and consistent with the other buildings in the development,” he wrote.
According to Harlicker, the site plan shows two-way traffic flow between the building and Gateway Drive that will allow customers to drive directly to the parking spaces instead of having to drive around the building and also helps separate the drive-through traffic from those going into the restaurant.
Two planning commission conditions of approval were removed by the council at the request of the petitioner, Silverstone Realty & Development, LLC, which is marketing the property for the developer, H&W Family Partnership.
One condition was to irrigate the storm water pond on the north side of Gateway Drive.
According to MFRA, a consulting firm retained by Silverstone Realty, an irrigation system is not necessary to promote healthy plants of the proposed trees and shrubs in the pond.
Harlicker had no problem with removing the irrigation condition, nor with Silverstone’s request to eliminate the condition that no freestanding sign be allowed, he said.
According to Harlicker, even though current plans do not include a freestanding sign, Silverstone wants to preserve the right to such a sign on the site should the owner want to install one in the future.
In a letter to the city, Jonathan Adam of Silverstone Realty & Development, LLC, said efforts to attract a drug store or pharmacy use to the parcel have not been successful because Coon Rapids has several Walgreens and CVS locations “which serve the population well.”
To bring Coon Rapids “another high end use that serves the population well,” McDonald’s was approached, Adam wrote.
“McDonald’s dominates its market and produces a high end building and business that fits the Gateway Commerce Center’s development quality,” he wrote.
This will be the fourth McDonald’s restaurant in Coon Rapids. The three existing McDonald’s restaurants are located at Coon Rapids and Mississippi boulevards, Foley and Northdale boulevards and on Northdale Boulevard north of Main Street next to Menards.
The final plat for the Gateway Commerce Center includes 12 commercial lots on 32 acres of land.
The large scale commercial and destination uses, including the hotel, are planned along the Highway 10 access ramp and neighborhood oriented uses will be along Hanson Boulevard.
There is a central street through the development, extending from a signalized intersection at Hanson and Northdale boulevards, north of Highway 10, to the northwest boundary of the project site.
Conditions of the council’s planned unit development require site plan approvals for each of the 12 lots.
Peter Bodley is at