A new drive-thru restaurant could be coming to Plain City, although officials won’t yet disclose the actual company.
Village Administrator Nathan Cahall told council during Tuesday’s work session that the parking lot of the Plain City Municipal Building, 800 Village Blvd., could soon have a “commercial food service.”
He wouldn’t say what business is interested in leasing the property, as it and the village are still in “preliminary discussions.”
Cahall did say it will have a drive-thru and noted its peak times are “in the mornings and maybe on the way to and from taking kids to school.”
“I wouldn’t say a midday or late in the evening type of traffic generator,” Cahall said.
He said Wednesday morning that the company is “in between” the sizes of a local restaurant and a large chain, as it is “smaller with a regional presence in the area.”
Cahall said the restaurant they are interested in constructing would be “probably about a 500-square foot building.”
For that size structure, the prospective business is interested in leasing a portion of the parking lot that would likely consist of about 25 parking spaces, he said.
The building would “go toward Village Boulevard as you’re pulling into the main driveway,” he said, and be located about 50-60 feet from the entrance.
Cahall explained that the tenant would lease the land and would be responsible for the construction of their building. Essentially, they would own the building but would rent, rather than own, the land it is on.
The Municipal Building is located in a shopping center with Napa Auto Parts and several hardware stores or home repair companies.
Cahall said the village owns about 40% of the parking spaces in the shopping center lot.
He said Plain City has a cross-access easement and cross-parking agreement with the shopping center, so individuals parking at events hosted by the village have the right to park in front of other businesses without being towed.
For that reason, Cahall said he isn’t concerned about leasing parking spaces. He noted that the site of the Municipal Building was “purposely built a little oversized” for expansion when needed.
“Our parking lot would still be half empty,” even during the village’s busiest events, Cahall said.
Council member Frank Reed asked Cahall if there would be any downside to pursuing a land lease with the company.
Cahall said there aren’t any major concerns, but said the restaurant would add traffic to the driveway area and create more wear and tear on the parking lot.
On that note, Police Chief Dale McKee wondered if there was a potential that traffic could be backed up onto Village Boulevard and block the emergency vehicle entrance.
If the village proceeds with a leasing agreement, Cahall said the commercial zoning would still require a site plan review by the planning and zoning commission. He said the orientation of the restaurant’s drive-thru would be a “key concern” of theirs in mitigating the traffic impact.
“We’re kind of trying to thread that needle,” in ensuring the restaurant is “far enough from the road without giving too much of your parking lot,” Cahall said.
He emphasized that he feels “we can orient things appropriately” to prevent any potential traffic issues.
Council member Michael Terry said he is open to the idea but wants to know what other businesses in the shopping center think of the potential restaurant.
“Without more information, it’s kind of hard for me to proceed strongly one way or the other,” he said.
Since the land is already zoned appropriately, Council member Shannon Pine said she is comfortable moving forward.
“I think it’s a good use of property and could help the other businesses in the area, for sure, and help with getting us a little more income,” she said.
Cahall said village staff will continue to discuss the prospective agreement with the company. He said they won’t get into “nitty gritty details” until there is a site plan for council to consider.
Cahall said Wednesday morning that he believes the company is hoping to finalize a leasing agreement “midway through the year.” He said he is unsure when actual construction would begin, as he believes the company is still considering financing options.
In the meantime, he said the village is hoping to lease one of its properties a little sooner.
Since village staff relocated its operations to the new Municipal Building, it has been seeking leasing options for the former village and police department buildings.
During the summer, the village temporarily leased the former police department property at 231 Friend Street to The Wendt Group during remodeling of its office.
Cahall said a local HVAC company looking to expand its operations is now interested in leasing the building. He would not disclose the company at this point in negotiations.
He said the business would meet zoning requirements. He noted that they are interested in a longer term lease, potentially around five years.
Cahall recommended the lease is similar to the agreement with The Wendt Group – a “triple-net” agreement in which utilities, insurance and any property taxes are added to the rental rate.
He said Wednesday that the lease for The Wendt Group is $1,008 per month.
Council President John Rucker said he felt it would be a “nice use of that property.”
Cahall said legislation regarding the lease would likely be on the agenda for the second council meeting in January.
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