Wilmette, News

McDonald’s application is in. Zoning board appearance set for November.

The first ingredient to a McDonald’s special order for Wilmette is complete.

Representatives for the fast-food giant have filed a zoning application to build a 4,100-square-foot restaurant at 200 Skokie Blvd., the former site of Baker’s Square that has been vacant since 2019.

Village of Wilmette officials announced in June that the property had been leased and by August, they were expecting a zoning application for a McDonald’s restaurant. The contents of the application are slated to be considered by the Zoning Board of Appeals in November and potentially by the Village Board in December.

McDonald’s zoning application was submitted by a law firm, Olguin Law, on behalf of the property owner, Steiner Family Holdings, out of Houston, Texas. The application says that the restaurant will meet Wilmette’s goals of “maintaining attractive commercial areas” and “provide a service needed by residents in the community.”

The location — at the northeast corner of Skokie Boulevard and Old Glenview Road — borders residential areas to its north and east, and neighbors in those areas have voiced their concerns about potential negative effects of development, such as traffic, noise and general neighborhood wellbeing. Those concerns were heard during a failed effort to build a third location for the Murray Bros. Caddyshack restaurant between 2020-2022.

The vacant building at 200 Skokie Blvd. in Wilmette used to be home to Baker’s Square until 2019. | THE RECORD FILE PHOTO

Village Manager Mike Braiman previously told The Record that in early discussions the neighbors were “universally opposed to the concept” of a McDonald’s.

“We have shared these concerns with McDonald’s representatives multiple times,” Braiman said, adding that Wilmette is open to all restaurants but McDonald’s will have to consider the neighbors’ concerns.

According to the zoning application, “appropriate buffers” will be included on site to mitigate impact to McDonald’s residential neighbors, “promoting harmonious coexistence between the commercial development and the the residential properties nearby.”

“The objective is to establish a reasonable and justifiable use of the property that aligns with community needs and adheres to responsible development principles,” the application reads.

The restaurant plans to have two access points from Skokie Boulevard. The northern entry would allow full incoming and outgoing traffic, while the southern one will be a right-in, right-out drive.

The parking lot would consist of 29 spaces and the drive-thru can hold 17 cars, according to the application.

The drive-thru is planned for the west, south and east sides of the building and would feature dual ordering lanes (south) and two payment windows (east). The application says that the parking lot has the capacity to house additional drive-thru traffic; though, it says that is an “unlikely event.”

The application included a third-party traffic study that showed peak traffic near the intersection occurs between 7:30-8:30 a.m., noon-1 p.m. and 5-6 p.m. on weekdays, and 12:30-1:30 p.m. on weekends.

During these times, the study estimated McDonald’s could welcome: 90 cars (in and out) on weekday mornings, 115 on weekday afternoons, 70 on weekday evenings and 116 on weekend afternoons. Up to 50 percent of that traffic would be from impromptu customers, referred to as “pass-by traffic,” that would mitigate the traffic’s effect, the study reports.

The study concludes that the restaurant would increase traffic, but the intersection has “adequate reserve capacity to accommodate the traffic that will be generated by the proposed McDonald’s restaurant.”

McDonald’s acquired the property at 200 Skokie Blvd earlier this year. In a memo to the Village Board in June, Asst. Director of Community Development Lucas Sivertsen wrote that while McDonald’s signed a lease for the property in 2023, the Village has been aware of the fast-food giant’s interest in the site since at least November 2022.

While Wilmette has a Subway location, it does have any drive-thru fast-food options; though, the town does have multiple Starbucks locations, including one with a a drive-thru, and fast-casual chains, such as Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Panda Express, Jimmy John’s and Dairy Queen.

Nearby McDonald’s are located on Green Bay Road in Winnetka (no drive-thru) and on Dempster Street in Skokie and Evanston.

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joe coughlin
Joe Coughlin

Joe Coughlin is a co-founder and the editor in chief of The Record. He leads investigative reporting and reports on anything else needed. Joe has been recognized for his investigative reporting and sports reporting, feature writing and photojournalism. Follow Joe on Twitter @joec2319

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