High-Rise for Golden Arches a Trend-Setter, Glendale Told

Times Staff Writer

A drive-through McDonald's to be built into a redevelopment project in Glendale could set a trend in the fast-food industry worldwide, the company's officials said this week.

Representatives of McDonald's Corp. told the Glendale Redevelopment Agency on Tuesday that the fast-food outlet at 500 N. Central Ave. will be torn down and rebuilt into an office and theater complex proposed on the site.

Patricia A. Howard, McDonald's regional real estate manager, said the six-story office development will be the first anywhere to have a drive-through restaurant. While McDonald's has a number of outlets in shopping malls and office buildings, none of those includes the convenience parking and drive-through service proposed in the Glendale development, she said.

Wave of Future

Douglas Ring, an attorney representing McDonald's, said the concept of combining high-rise development with fast-food convenience may become the wave of the future in urbanized areas.

"This may have a major impact not only for our company," Ring said, "but impact the way the industry operates in the United States and in the world."

He said there is a growing demand to make better use of land in areas which are becoming increasingly urbanized. "McDonald's is the largest retail owner of real estate in this country," Ring said. "If this works, it could serve as the prototype for what we could be doing in other locations where the urban area has come to us."

Howard said that McDonald's located in shopping malls and office buildings are less profitable than typical free-standing suburban restaurants which offer convenient parking and drive-through service.

While Howard said the McDonald's on Central is among the most successful, she said the corporation and franchise operator have agreed to test the proposal combining both office development and a convenience restaurant. If the experiment is successful, she said, McDonald's may consider similar development of other franchised locations in urban areas.

Intersection Congested

Glendale officials have long complained that the intersection of Central and Milford Street, where the McDonald's is located, is the most congested in the city. They said traffic frequently backs up in all directions because of the large number of drivers trying to get to the popular fast-food restaurant.

"People are determined they are going to go there any way they can," said Glendale Mayor Ginger Bremberg, who said drivers frequently violate traffic rules in a struggle to get into or out of the McDonald's property.

The development will divert traffic off Central by requiring drivers to enter the restaurant parking lot from Milford, which will be widened to two lanes in each direction. Traffic in the drive-through lane, which currently backs up onto Central, will be funneled into an extended lane in the proposed new parking lot.

Preliminary plans for the combined development were presented Tuesday by the Howard-Platz Group of Glendale during a redevelopment agency study session. Developers propose to build two structures, the office building and a multiscreen theater, in the half-block area along Milford between Central and Orange Street.

McDonald's owns a portion of the site, which it has tentatively agreed to sell to developers in exchange for a long-term lease in the new complex, according to developers and city officials.

Architect Leason Pomeroy of Orange said the McDonald's and retail space would be featured on the ground floor of the office building, which will face the corner of Central and Milford. The theater complex will face the corner of Milford and Orange. A multilevel subterranean parking garage is to be built under the entire site.

Pomeroy said parking for the McDonald's will be provided at ground level behind the restaurant, while theater space will be built above the parking lot. The theater will include five screens and 1,600 seats.

Greg Hillgren, a partner in the Howard-Platz Group, said construction on the $30-million project is expected to begin in May, when the McDonald's will be demolished. Completion is scheduled by fall, 1989.

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