by Chuck Hoven
(Plain Press, December 2013) On Monday November 11th, the City of Cleveland Board Of Zoning Appeals (BOZA) unanimously approved a zoning variance for a Rally’s drive-through restaurant and patio proposed for the northwest corner of Clark and Fulton Road.
While the corner is already designated as General Retail, and a variance was not needed to build a restaurant, the Near West Design Review Committee asked that the building be built as close to the corner of the streets as possible and that the driveway be placed as far from the intersection of Clark and Fulton as possible. The revised design called for the driveway on Fulton Road to be less than 15 feet from the property line to the north of the parcel. Since City of Cleveland Code requires driveways be 15 feet or more from a property line, a variance was needed.
The site for the new Rally’s at 3506 Clark Avenue, formerly housed the Zannoni’s Food Service Distributors, which, lured away by a tax abatement offer, moved to North Ridgeville in 2007.
The current owner of the site is Serrat Enterprises, represented by Enrique and George Serrat, the owners of Henry’s Marathon, directly across Clark Avenue from the site. The prospective tenant at the site is Checkers Drive-In Restaurants, the parent company of Rally’s.
The landlord and tenant were asked a number of questions at the BOZA hearing and a neighborhood meeting on November 7th. In response to a question as to whether the landlord or the tenant would be responsible for snow removal in the winter, George Serrat said the lease agreement calls for the tenant to take care of keeping the sidewalks free of snow in the winter. A Checkers representative also agreed to place a sign on the Fulton Road exit of the restaurant warning drivers that they would be exiting into a School Zone. (Walton School is just Northeast of the exit.)
Checkers representatives told a small group of neighborhood residents attending the community meeting that the hours of the Rally’s would be from 10 a.m. to 4 or 5 a.m. In response to questions at the BOZA hearing about the proposed patio possibly becoming a hang out, Checkers representatives said security would be provided if needed, the Rally’s would also have lighting and DVD recorders on a 60 day loop.
Maria Soucek, Economic Development Coordinator of the Stockyard, Clark-Fulton & Brooklyn Center Community Development Office, said she did not hear concern from restaurants such as Michael’s Family Restaurant about the additional competition. A Checkers representative said Rally’s sees its competition as other fast food restaurants such as McDonalds, Burger King and Wendy’s and not the Mom and Pop restaurants.
Soucek said the biggest concern expressed by local merchants and residents was the additional litter generated by fast food restaurants. Ward 14 Councilman Brian Cummins said that currently the McDonald’s on Clark Avenue had agreed to pick litter for a half block in on either side of its restaurant. He said he hoped a similar arrangement could be reached with Rally’s.
Gloria Ferris of the Stockyard, Clark Fulton, Brooklyn Centre Community Development Office’s Advisory Council praised Checkers representatives for their willingness to accommodate community suggestions in the design process by making the building more pedestrian friendly by bringing it up to the sidewalk. She also saw the demolition of the Zannoni’s building as contributing to pedestrian safety by removing a blind spot created by the large corner building. She said she believes the proposed patio will also benefit bus riders waiting at the corner.
Checkers representatives said with the approval of the variance, they expect to be able to start construction of the new Rally’s in April and to have it open by July of 2014.