2017-01-05 / Front Page

Developers unveil Starbucks redesign plans

Biddeford Planning Board reviews changes
Staff Writer

BIDDEFORD — The Biddeford Planning Board reviewed updated plans for a Starbucks coffee shop at the corner of the Five Points intersection at its meeting on Wednesday.

Father-son developers Bill and Patrick Donahue, of Five Star Holdings, LLC, submitted plans to construct an 1,800-square-foot Starbucks coffee shop at 352 Alfred St., which sits at the intersection of Alfred Street (Route 111) and Elm Street (U.S. Route 1), in September.

Plans initially called for the former D’Angelo’s sandwich shop building, which currently sits vacant on the property, to be razed to make way for the coffee shop, which would sit in the middle of the property with a drive-thru circling the building.

An abutting property at 360 Alfred St. owned by the developers was rezoned from a residential to a business zone by the City Council in December, per the developers' request, to make way for an additional retail business.

City documents originally said the Alfred Street property may become a financial institution, but Project Manager Bill Thompson said at Wednesday’s meeting the Starbucks company had concerns about the coffee shop building’s visibility on the busy corner due to a Prompto auto shop directly adjacent to the property. 

“As late as probably noon today we had a conference call with Starbucks and they’re pretty particular about where they want to be, and they want to be here badly,” Thompson said.

Thompson presented a redesigned site plan showing the Starbucks occupying the newly-rezoned property at 360 Alfred St., relocated from its previous position in the center of the parcel at 352 Alfred St.

“Their concern was their site exposure from Route 111 was limited,” Thompson said.

The new plan will leave the former D’Angelo’s building — which will now undergo renovations — in its current spot as another retail location for rent by the Donahues.

The entrance off Alfred Street (Route 111) will only be accessible to those turning right off Elm Street, and those exiting onto Alfred Street will only be able to turn right, heading west toward the Maine Turnpike. 

Thompson said this design was required the Maine Department of Transportation, which is still currently evaluating traffic-related components of the project. Thompson said there is likely another month before the MDOT completes its analysis.

The Alfred Street entrance has also been moved 32 feet further away from the intersection, for safety reasons, Patrick Donahue said before the board.

Thompson stressed there no entrances or exits onto Summit Street as a result of the redesign, which had been a concern of residents during the rezoning process.

The Planning Board in December voted not to rezone a property at 4 Summit St. for commercial purposes, which the Donahues had originally asked for in their initial plans to create an entrance into the development.

Because there are 30 days until the council’s rezoning takes effect — in addition to a provision allowing the Planning Board to waive a 30-foot vegetative buffer requirement between commercial and residential zones — Thompson said he wanted to bring the redesigned concept to the Planning Board for input before the final plans are presented in February. 

“I didn’t want to show up at the next meeting with a complete design without having the board be aware of the change,” he said.

The board generally approved of the redesigned plan, but did express concerns over traffic flow and parking.

“It doesn’t seem like you have a lot of room for queuing up. With a high volume business like this I worry, at 7 a.m., you’re going to have traffic backed up right onto (Route) 111,” said Board Member Matthew Boutet about the coffee shop’s seemingly small drive-thru capacity. 

Thompson said there would be room for about nine cars to line up, which he said Starbucks deemed adequate.

Other board members said they are concerned that traffic would back up onto Alfred Street and pose hazards for motorists turning onto the street or coming straight from West Street across the busy intersection.

The developers will complete a more-detailed design of the reconfigured corner before returning to the Planning Board, taking both parking and traffic flow into consideration.

— Staff Writer Alan Bennett can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 329 or abennett@journaltribune.com.

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