A four-block stretch of Whalley Avenue that already has a McDonald’s, a Burger King, a Subway, and a Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen will soon add a Wendy’s to the mix, solidifying the area just west of Downtown as the city’s fast food row.
During the most recent monthly meeting of the City Plan Commission on the second floor of City Hall, commissioners unanimously approved the site plan for a new Wendy’s fast food and drive-thru restaurant to be constructed at 67-81 Whalley Ave. between Dwight and Sperry Streets.
The nearly 27,000 square-foot site is currently home to a surface parking lot and an abandoned single-story building that used to house the Midas automotive repair shop.
“I’d like to put all of my support and the community’s support behind this Wendy’s project,” Dwight Alder Frank Douglass told the commission at the meeting, which was held last Wednesday night.
Matt Bruton, a project manager with the Meriden-based architecture firm BL Companies, said he hopes to demolish the former Midas building and begin construction on the new 2,170 square-foot Wendy’s later this summer, with the goal of having it open by the end of the year.
The new restaurant will have 22 parking spaces, including two handicap-accessible spaces. The City Plan staff report on the proposal notes that on June 13 the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) granted the applicant a special exception to build a drive-thru restaurant located less than 250 feet from a residential use in a BB (automobile sales) business district. Per the condition of the special exception approval, Wendy’s has agreed to build a fence along the western boundary of the property.
“It’s a brand new, sleek, modern building that will complement the existing businesses that are already on Whalley Avenue,” Bruton said, gesturing towards the rendering of the new Wendy’s. The building is a single-story, slab-on-grade construction with a patio for outdoor seating on the site. The building’s two curb cuts will both be on Whalley Avenue.
Bruton said the new development and its accompanying landscape improvements will bring the site’s current impervious ratio from its current 98 percent down to 72 percent.
Westville Alder and City Plan Commissioner Adam Marchand asked about the large Wendy’s sign and logo included in the architectural rendering.
“That sign looks big,” he said. “Is that a detail that was reviewed” by BZA?
Bruton said the new Wendy’s will have three signs, including the large 31.6 square-foot “monument sign” facing Whalley Avenue. He said all three signs are in conformance with city regulations.
“It’s clear what restaurant it is,” Marchand said before the city planners voted to approve the site plan. “It’s a testament to the power of the marketing.”
As a neighbor, this project is the worst. Whalley Avenue has been held back by its out-of-date zoning for far too long, and approving a 22-space parking lot (and a drive-thru!) a block away from Broadway is the latest symptom. One has only to look at the Popeye’s and the Burger King nearby to see that this size parking lot is unwarranted.
This lot could be developed to fit nicely with the existing mixed-use buildings adjacent to it, with multiple apartments and multiple storefronts (including a Wendy’s, if they so desired). All of this is apart from the fact that the City’s Plan plainly calls for higher density mixed-use development in this section of Whalley Avenue.
Honestly, trying to make the sign more aesthetically-pleasing is lipstick on a pig, and I’m extremely disappointed in our alder for supporting this development.
posted by: THREEFIFTHS on July 23, 2018 3:51pm
Snake-Oil and Three card Monte Being Sold by Judas Goat Leaders.
People Of Color Bear The Brunt Of Fast-Food Explosion Black America has a fast-food problem, and the U.S. government helped create it. According to Chin Jou, an American history lecturer at the University of Sydney, this didn’t happen by accident. Jou’s new book, Supersizing Urban America: How Inner Cities Got Fast Food with Government Help, details how the U.S. government has helped subsidize the growth of fast-food outlets in minority communities through Small Business Administration grants, as well as urban revitalization and minority entrepreneurship initiatives that prioritize fast-food establishments over other industries.These efforts — along with a heavy advertising push from the industry itself — have pushed many African American families a long way from the healthier diets of previous generations. As a result, Jou points out, minority communities are disproportionately affected by obesity and related health issues.
How the fast-food industry courted African American customers Decades later, the fast-food industry has seen a severe decline in popularity in the United States. But black customers remain as important to the industry’s bottom line as ever before.
Fast food = cardiologist’s job security. About the last thing I would wish for the Whalley Avenue area residents is more garbage food, trash and low paying jobs.
posted by: deathandtaxes on July 23, 2018 5:13pm
Good job, Alder Douglass. Kill the long-term hotel Residence Inn proposed three years ago, but support the fast food restaurant!
posted by: 1644 on July 23, 2018 6:07pm
bnmuller: Actually, it sounds like the city’s plan for the area remains automobile sales, although the many auto dealerships decamped for the suburbs and lower taxes decades age. So, auto row becomes fast food row. I would agree it’s too many parking spaces. I would expect the building would be happy to have less paving and therefore less cost, although Marchand pretends he wants more parking lots. No, its not the best, but it is far better than what is there. The city will get some new tax revenue and some jobs, both of which it needs. Besides, of all fast food, Wendy’s is the closest to palatable.
posted by: citoyen on July 23, 2018 8:04pm
Wait - wasn’t Frank Douglass the alder who helped kill the proposal by Marriott to build a Residence Inn in his neighborhood?
Curious set of priorities: championing giving his constituents close access to yet more unhealthy food yet denying them the opportunity for additional jobs.
posted by: HewNaven on July 24, 2018 8:13am
New Haven’s “pro-labor” BoA…. not one of them can speak up about the relationship between chain (franchise) businesses like Wendy’s and Family Dollar and corollary wage stagnation in the job market.
posted by: Esbey on July 24, 2018 9:58am
There is no possible issue of unionization in fast food, so Marchand and Douglass wave this one through. Thanks to all who point out the hypocrisy as compared to the Residence Inn, which would have benefited the city even more, but where the alders (who represent the hotel and restaurant union, more than the city of New Haven) wanted to exercise their hold-up veto over a non-union hotel. That cost us tax dollars and jobs.
And, yes, why on earth is there still “automotive use” zoning here? BAR on Crown was once an auto dealership, I believe, and then the auto businesses moved out to Whalley and then decades ago it moved out to Amity and the suburbs. Our zoning regs lag reality by a half-century.
posted by: Gretchen Pritchard on July 24, 2018 10:36am
Interesting that the alders are all so happy happy and the commenters have (what appear to me to be) very legitimate reservations about this project.
1644: New Haven’s Comprehensive Plan from 2015 clearly highlights this portion of Whalley Avenue for “General Commercial Mixed Use,” (pg. III-18) and even includes a handy doodle of taller buildings with zero setback! (pg. III-14)
Plainly this proposal, though in line with the current zoning, isn’t in line with the city’s long-term planning.
posted by: Cove'd on July 24, 2018 12:33pm
New Haven’s Zoning Ordinances/Regulations are in desperate need of an overhaul. Form-based code anyone?
posted by: Kevin McCarthy on July 24, 2018 6:16pm
Cove’d, New Haven’s land use law is indeed badly outdated. Its basic structure was adopted nearly a century ago, at a time when density and mixed uses were seen as evil.
Mayor Harp proposed a re-write of the zoning ordinance, but that would take a fair bit of money and City Plan staff time, both of which are in short supply.
Perhaps people with experience and/or interest in land use could form the equivalent of FRAC. It would be useful if such a group reflect diverse perspectives, e.g., 3/5ths as well as Jonathan Hopkins. Even if this initiative did not come up with a complete re-write of the zoning ordinance, I believe there are ways of making land use more transparent, environmentally sustainable, and economically inclusive.
posted by: yim-a on July 24, 2018 8:04pm
Ensuring a robust supply of research subjects for Pfizer’s chronic disease drug development division just round the corner.
posted by: wendy1 on July 25, 2018 11:46am
1 out of 3 New Havenites has a weight problem. Unless there is a radical menu change, I fear for my neighbors’ health. The city has no shame when they allow cheap, fatty, fast food enterprises to feed the poor and line the main thoroughfares of NH.