City Council voted Oct. 11 to approve two zoning requests that pave the way for the expansion of Richardson Restaurant Park and the construction of a new location for Eiland Coffee Roasters.
Kirk Hermansen, developer of the restaurant park, and Clay Eiland, owner of Eiland Coffee Roasters, both plan to bring drive-thru restaurants to the property, triggering the need for special permits.
At a meeting in December, Hermansen was approved to bring two additional restaurants with prepaid order pickup windows to the restaurant park, which is located off the US 75 frontage road just north of Spring Valley Road. However, council reserved the right to vet Hermansen’s tenants if he decided to pursue full-service drive-thrus via a special permit.
In July, council denied Hermansen’s request to add Dave’s Hot Chicken to the development. The objection rested primarily on the desired full-service drive-thru as well as issues related to walkability and traffic.
As a compromise, Hermansen returned with a plan that gives up one of the future drive-thru restaurants and reduces the size of the drive-thru at Dave’s from two lanes to one, among other concessions.
“We have listened to you, we have incorporated and addressed all of your changes,” he said. “We have listened to the community, to the HOAs and generally to the public ... We have earned an overwhelming amount of support for the project as a whole.”
The updated proposal also includes a 16,000-square-foot outdoor dining and entertainment plaza known as the Biergarten. Hermansen said the area will include picnic tables, a bar, a firepit with seating, cabanas, space for live music or movie screenings, a game court for cornhole and ping pong, and space for a food truck and other amenities.
“We want people to feel like they can hang out here,” Hermansen told the City Plan Commission at its Sept. 22 meeting, where his proposal was approved unanimously.
Hermansen worked closely with Eiland to incorporate a new location for his coffee roasting business. In 2019, Eiland pitched his idea for a coffee roasting warehouse and drive-thru restaurant north of the restaurant park. After four hours of impassioned commentary by residents both in favor and opposed to the project, council voted down the proposal, citing potential traffic congestion on the US 75 frontage road and insufficient parking as the main areas of concern.
Jason Claunch, president of Catalyst Commercial, said at the plan commission meeting that this version of Eiland’s plan eliminates access from the frontage road, which should alleviate traffic. Cross access and cross parking with Hermansen’s property should improve access for pedestrians and provide more parking, he said.
The location, which will be built on the northern edge of the restaurant park property, will include a two-story restaurant with a drive-thru as well as an adjacent coffee roasting warehouse with administrative space.
“This is not a normal building for a coffee shop; we are trying to make a destination,” Eiland said. “Every facet we are doing needs to be done well.”
Hermansen’s project garnered over 1,000 letters of support, 650 of which were specific to Richardson. It also had the support of nearby homeowners associations, Hermansen said.
“We really appreciate that the developers have taken feedback from the board and from us ... We really think they have come back with a much stronger plan,” Travis Bond, president of the Richardson Heights Neighborhood Association, said during the public comment section. “We think the Biergarten is a very exciting space, and it’s what we have wanted in that space for a long time.”
The majority of council agreed that Hermansen’s new plan was a sufficient compromise; however, some were concerned that there was no guarantee the Biergarten would be built.
“I need assurance that this will be completed within a reasonable timeframe, whatever that timeframe is,” Council Member Ken Hutchenrider said.
In response, Hermansen agreed to a contingency in the ordinance that would revoke the order board at Dave’s if construction on the Biergarten does not begin within 24 months.
Council unanimously approved Hermansen’s request with that contingency. It also approved Eiland’s request, with a contingency that he would improve the existing chain-link fence.