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August 6, 2014

New building slated for closed Dunkin’ Donuts site in Clawson

By Robert Guttersohn
C & G Staff Writer

CLAWSON — The Planning Commission approved a site plan July 22 that will bring down the former Dunkin’ Donuts building at 202 E. 14 Mile Road and replace it with a new 2,731-square-foot structure.

“We think it will be a nice addition to the city,” said the site plan’s architect, Michael Boggio.

Demolition to Dunkin’ Donuts is expected to begin in August, and construction is expected to begin in September, said Boggio.

The developers currently have no planned tenant, but the building will include a drive-thru for a restaurant and an additional smaller space for a retail store or carryout restaurant.

Even though central city zoning requires new buildings be erected along the property line, the building will be set back 70 feet from the street.

Chris Corey, a planning consultant from McKenna and Associates, explained that the former Dunkin’ Donuts had a shared-parking agreement with its neighboring businesses. Building a street-front property would have cut off the access points to the adjacent lots.

“Because of this, we are recommending that the Planning Commission accept the setback to keep the access in place, given the shared-parking agreement,” he said.

It will include an outdoor dining area to fulfill the central city zoning requirement of an open space.

“It will enhance the pedestrian experience even though it’s not on 14 Mile Road,” Boggio said of outdoor area. “It will provide some additional life to the area”

Planning Commission members primarily were concerned about the volume of the drive-thru speaker and the height of the building’s facade.

Chairman Bob Blanchette said limiting the hours the drive-thru speaker can be used would alleviate complaints from nearby residents.

The commission established the hours of the drive-thru from 6 a.m.-10 p.m. on weekdays and 6 a.m.-11 p.m. on weekends. Further, it limited the volume of the speaker to 55 decibels.

Boggio said the developers didn’t plan on recruiting a restaurant with a late-running operation.

“The intent is not to have a 24-hour restaurant,” Boggio said.

Tyler Dobson, a member of the commission, said he was most concerned with the height of the building, which at points is 5 feet taller than the neighboring building. Because the ordinance in the central city district allows up to four-story buildings, the commission could not enforce that the building be shortened. It could only recommend the change, said Jim Albus, the Building and Planning Department’s director. 

The building’s design originally called for the building to match the height level of Renshaw Lounge, next door to the east, with two points of the facade built higher to accentuate the entryways.

“That’s tall enough in that if I’m behind in the residential area, I’m looking at the backs of those,” Dob
son said of the high points. “They’re not meant to be seen.”

Joan Larson, the director of the Downtown Development Authority, agreed with bringing down the height of the building.

“The same concern that Tyler brought up was that it didn’t fit with the surrounding buildings,” Horton said.

Planning member Daniel Yell said he didn’t feel the commission should request the building height be lowered. He said the DDA has been looking for taller, multi-story buildings.

“Now here’s a building that’s coming in, and they’re trying to do just that, and now we’re saying, ‘No, no. Knock it down,’” Yell said.

Dobson, a former member of the DDA, said the point was to bring in additional office space — not to bring in larger facades.

“It was really to get more occupiable space downtown,” Dobson said.

Boggio agreed to scale down the entire design to closely match Renshaw’s height.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Robert Guttersohn at rguttersohn@candgnews.com or at (586)218-5006.