Dueling fast-food proposals at 8th & Moreno shopping center

       A conflict over potential fast-food restaurants is simmering in the Office Depot/Hobby Lobby shopping center off South Eighth Street at Moreno Avenue.
       The current focal point is an application by THJ & J LLC, owners of a half-acre on the southwest side of the center, for a parking variance that would allow a drive-through restaurant at a 5,000-square-foot, freestanding, one-story retail building that's close to the Moreno/ Eighth intersection. The thinking, according to THJ architect John Nelson, is that the center as a whole typically has 200 or more unused parking spaces, and a renovation of the 18-year-old structure in conjunction with a national fast-food eatery “would enhance the entrance to the center.”
       However, to obtain the needed 17 spaces requested in the variance the THJ restaurant would wind up taking spaces from the 6.7 acres owned by Eighth Avenue LLC (which includes the Office Depot and Hobby Lobby businesses and parking lots), according to Rich Walker, who represents that group.
       Additionally, Walker revealed that his LLC is planning to build a fast-food restaurant of its own, near the northwest entrance/exit by the Auto Zone. He said he was “not at liberty” to give a name, but it would be a “big name fast-food retailer.”
       The THJ request is scheduled to go to the Aug. 18 Planning Commission meeting, according to Ryan Tefertiller of City Land Use Review. He said he is still researching the matter and has yet to make a recommendation. A nearly identical THJ request lost at Planning Commission in 2008.

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