By TEREASA NIMS
Sunday Times Newspapers
LINCOLN PARK – After two years in the works, White Castle is etching closer to replace its restaurant at 2115 Fort St. following the city’s approval for rezoning.
The City Council Jan. 17 unanimously approved the restaurant’s request to rezone the location from commercial to planned unit development. Chief Building Official Kirk Malcomson said that because of the changes the owners of the restaurant wanted to make — such as the ingress and egress — the city planner (Beckett & Raeder) suggested the zoning change was the easiest route.
Malcomson said by changing the zoning, city officials and the restaurant owners weren’t bogged down with requesting variances.
The site currently exists as a restaurant with a drive-through. This is not permitted in the Central Business District. The Planning Department noted that restaurants are a recommended focus use in the Downtown Commercial land classification. Businesses are requested to welcome pedestrian traffic with attractive storefronts and outdoor seating.
A resolution to the conflict between pedestrian and drive-through traffic was central to the planned unit development.
The restaurant has been at the location for 59 years and in the current building for 30 years. The company would like to tear down its 1,900-square-foot building and erect a 2,865-square-foot restaurant. The parking, stacking, loading and circulation have been modified to accommodate the expansion.
Malcomson said the next step is to submit building plans to the city.
White Castle representatives said they hope to tear the building down in June and re-open in October.
Some residents who live near the restaurant say a four-month close will be difficult, but they are anxious to see the larger building.
“There are lots of restaurants in this area,” neighboring resident Becky Lancaster said, “but there is only one White Castle close by.”
(Tereasa Nims can be reached at email@example.com.)