By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
RIVERVIEW – The City Council viewed expansion plans for Riverview Plaza Center expansion plans which include a Starbucks, Mexican restaurant and dine-in pizzeria.
Doraid Markus, owner of Birmingham-based Markus Management Group, and owner of the plaza at the southwest corner of Fort and Pennsylvania, has submitted special land use and site plan applications to the city’s Planning Commission, with changes to the property, and zoning requests for changes to the existing structure and adjacent property acquisition that require council approval.
Community Development Director Dave Scurto said Markus is bringing in several retailers, with one of the restaurants using the current ProClean dry cleaner location, 17020 Fort St., and a coffee shop seeking a drive-through lane, which necessitates the purchase of a wedge of land from Solo World Partners, LLC, 13725 Pennsylvania Road, a used and rebuilt auto parts business, with whom a sales agreement has been reached and transacted.
Scurto said Solo World’s boundaries need to be redrawn, since a Planned Development district zoning requires one owner in a PD district. The wedge of land Solo World is selling to Markus for the plaza will be rezoned FS, Fort Street district zoning. The lot divisions for Solo World and the Plaza will then both be redrawn.
Markus said the Plaza is a “tremendous asset” to Riverview, and will spur additional development in the future. He said with Kroger set to occupy the former Kmart building across the street, the redevelopment could become a “point position” for the city.
Markus said while ProClean’s owner decided to retire when his lease expired, no other current tenants will be displaced. He said Great Clips hair salon will be relocated within the plaza into a larger location.
He said the proposed new pizzeria is a dine-in facility, and will not compete with the current tenant, Marco’s Pizza, which is carry-out.
“They piggy-back off each other,” Markus said. “We have similar in other plazas and they seem to work great with each other.”
Markus said the purchased property wedge on the northwest side of the plaza will create extra parking, a loading zone for delivery vehicles, and a drive-through for Starbucks.
In addition to the north side drive-through, a break in the middle of the plaza will create a patio area with outdoor seating to accommodate adjacent restaurants. Markus also foresees a drive-through on the south side of the plaza for something like a juice retailer. He said the traffic flow for the two drive-throughs would be separated by enough distance that they would not impact each other.
Markus said developers typically do not remove part of a building.
“We’re actually taking away part of the building to make this thing 100 percent efficient, bringing it up to today’s standards, and bringing it to where national retailers will want to play and open up here,” Markus said.
He said the facade will be updated, with long board siding along the front, similar to the newer Whole Food stores, with the existing steel canopy roof removed.
Markus said he would like to start the renovations in March when the weather breaks. He said the plaza renovation will impact operations of current tenants as little as possible.
He said Starbucks wants a Sept. 1 opening.
Scurto said Feb. 2 Markus would meet with the Planning Commission for special land use and site plan approvals.
Once the property zoning changes are approved, Scurto said the city can start looking at how the plaza design works.
Councilman Tom Coffey said it is “a very positive and exciting venture for the corner.”
Markus agreed with Coffey’s impression.
“It’s going to bring a fresh, modern look to the plaza that will look like it’s basically a brand new plaza,” Markus said. “We have a lot of strong interest from a lot of national tenants who have seen this now, so there is a lot of excitement for this place.
“There are a lot of eyes on this corner, between the Kroger and the Starbucks and everything else that’s around here,” he said. “That’s good for the city, it’s good for me, it’s good for everybody obviously.”