Company breaks ground on Dunkin' Donuts — sans drive-thru
PITTSFIELD >> Cafua Management is forging ahead with plans for a Dunkin' Donuts restaurant at the corner of First and Fenn streets — but without the proposed drive-thru operation that was rejected in 2013 by the City Council.
However, excavation work that began Thursday morning at the site was halted after officials leaned that the building permit previously issued for the project had expired.
James Scalise, of SK Design Group Inc., which designed the restaurant, said Cafua should have no problem obtaining a new building permit, but the process could take more than a week because of the upcoming holiday.
The company, which controls hundreds of the doughnut shops in several states, including four outlets in Pittsfield, proposes a restaurant and space for other shops on the .84-acre site of the former Plunkett School, which the company purchased for $775,000 in 2013 and razed in June 2014.
The building was constructed in 1909 and was last used as a school in 1977. Attempts to sell it for a use that would preserve the structure, which had been vacant for several years, were unsuccessful.
According to a site plan map submitted to the city Community Development Office, the restaurant will have parking in the rear and on the Fenn Street side of the parcel. An entrance/exit at the rear corner of the lot on Fenn Street is displayed in the plan, along with an exit at the northwest corner of the lot at First Street.
City Planner C.J. Hoss confirmed Thursday that a restaurant at the site is a by-right use, not requiring further approvals, although a drive-thru requires a special permit granted by the council.
Mayor Linda M. Tyer declined specific comment at this point but issued a statement, saying, "I am working with the Community Development team to get a full understanding of the Cafua proposal."
The council in 2013 shot down the drive-thru permit request, and Cafua appealed that decision to Massachusetts Land Court, where the appeal was rejected in a court ruling in March.
Cafua officials could not be reached Thursday for comment on the current project and whether the company will close a Dunkin' Donuts shop and drive-thru it owns further south on First Street. That shop had previously been slated for closure if the new restaurant and drive-thru were approved.
The company also has shops on Dalton Avenue, East Street and West Housatonic Street, and is proposing a new restaurant and drive-thru at the campus of the former St. Mary the Morning Star Church on Tyler Street.
While attempting to gain permits for the restaurant and drive-thru at First and Fenn streets, the company offered to make changes to the typical Dunkin' Donuts building and facade design, and Scalise said Thursday evening that those alterations remain part of the plan.
The plan also called for retail space for small businesses, such as a sandwich shop.
The site is located just south of the Zion Lutheran Church and The Common off First Street.
Crews with John's Tractor and Excavation Service of Lanesborough began extensive site work on Thursday.
Contact Jim Therrien at 413-496-6247.
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