Dunkin’ Donuts drive-through proposed for downtown Highland Park

A box of doughnuts includes frosted and glazed Dunkin Donuts.
This photo provided by Dunkin' Donuts on Monday, May 5, 2014 shows a selection of the doughnuts they sell. | File Photo

A developer is asking the City of Highland Park to approve plans for a drive-through Dunkin’ Donuts shop at Green Bay Road and Second Street, a prominent intersection that a downtown study found was ripe for mixed-use residential development.

The triangular property between Green Bay Road, Second Street and Elm Place is currently home to Werhane’s Service Center, which includes a Mobil gas station, service center and small convenience store at 1992 Second St. The property is zoned B4 for commercial service usage.

In a petition before the Highland Park Plan Commission June 17, developer Jeffery Silverman proposed to construct a two-story Dunkin’ Donuts coffee shop with a drive-through window at the narrow, northern end of the property. Serving mostly drive-through and carryout customers, the eatery would include 12 seats for eat-in customers — two located on the ground floor and the remainder on the upper floor.

At the broader, southern end of the property, the developer is proposing to construct a multi-tenant retail building with about 6,000 square feet of space. The developer envisions that the retail component would house three separate businesses.

While the property currently has five different driveways, the developer is proposing to eliminate three of the driveways and provide one access off of Green Bay Road on the west and another off Second Street on the east.

During a preliminary meeting in December, plan commission members expressed interest in a mixed-use project with a residential component in keeping with the vision outlined by The Lakota Group in a 2012 downtown study. Commissioned by the city and the Downtown Property Owners’ Association, the study found the North Triangle area between First Street, Green Bay Road and Elm Place ripe for redevelopment as mixed-use residential.

Downtown zoning changes arising from that study are pending before the Highland Park City Council.

Silverman’s proposal for the site, which is part of the North Triangle, does not incorporate any residential units.

Architect Walter Hainsfurther said his client opted to prepare formal plans for a retail project in the interests of moving forward and after analyzing market conditions.

The developer is asking for relief from the city’s parking requirement of 65 spaces. His traffic consultants contend that Dunkin’ Donuts’ peak hours are not likely to overlap with those of the other retail tenants and that the proposed 22 spaces should be sufficient. The traffic study notes that 65 to 70 percent of all Dunkin’ Donuts business occurs before 10 a.m. and about 65 to 70 percent of customers use the drive-through window. Moreover, the company strives to serve customers within 90 seconds of the time they place their order.

That quick turnaround “can be accomplished because Dunkin Donuts has a much more limited menu and fewer special-order options than other coffee shops and drive-through restaurants,’’ according to the study. The developer would require tenants to purchase employee parking permits for off-site parking in city lots.

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