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Queens Chronicle

McDonald’s clears first Merrick hurdle

CB 12 backs burger chain’s effort to replace a shuttered KFC site

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Posted: Thursday, June 26, 2014 10:30 am | Updated: 11:20 am, Thu Jul 3, 2014.

Community Board 12 last week gave its blessing to an effort by McDonald’s to convert a local nuisance into an attractive, productive property.

The restaurant giant sought and received support for its plans to turn a shuttered, fenced-off KFC restaurant at 122-21 Merrick Boulevard in St. Albans into a McDonald’s unlike any other in the borough.

“It’s an eyesore,” CB 12 Chairwoman Adrienne Adams — and other board members — said.

John Marmora, the attorney representing McDonald’s, said geometry and the property’s 60-by-161-foot dimensions made it tricky to work with.

But he also believes the company’s engineers, represented last week by Eric Meyn of Long Island-based Bohler Engineering, have come up with a solution.

If ultimately approved by the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals, which could take it up in July, the new restaurant would cater to drive-through and pedestrian traffic.

“The drive-through would stack up to 10 cars, and the walk-up window would have outdoor seating covered with a canopy,” he said.

There would be no inside seating, he said, because the size does not permit it, and that approval for a second floor to accommodate interior dining would be highly unlikely to receive local or city approval.

If granted the zoning variances it needs, the restaurant would operate 24 hours a day, bringing an estimated 18 to 20 full- and part-time jobs.

Under questioning from board members, Marmora said the company certainly would attempt to fill the positions with local residents when possible.

The 24-hour operation, he said, answered board members’ concerns about security.

“We feel it’s better to stay open 24 hours than to turn out the lights, leave the building and maybe have some activity on the property neither we nor you would like,” he said.

Several board members expressed concern that a fast-food restaurant on the site would only revisit problems brought on by the KFC, which ultimately wound up in bankruptcy.

The lot now is surrounded by a high blue construction fence that was open on a recent visit by the Chronicle.

Garbage, junk and other debris litter the site, and the building has been tagged with graffiti.

Marmora said the 10-lane capacity of the drive-through lanes, as well as an entrance and egress on Sunbury Road, would alleviate concerns of traffic backed up off the property and tying up traffic on Merrick Boulevard.

Marmora said first that McDonald’s had recently succeeded in turning around a nearby restaurant, and that it expects the same results at the Merrick site.

He said a difference is how McDonald’s, a publicly traded company based in Illinois, handles its franchisee real estate interests.

“In every case, McDonald’s retains ownership of the land or is the lessee,” he said. “That way, if the franchisee is operating in a way we don’t like or goes into bankruptcy, we don’t lose the land, as happened here.”

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