Leader Blues

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

TOP STORY >> City will get new eateries

Leader staff writer

Three restaurants are in various stages of announcing plans to build in Jacksonville. They include Cici’s Pizza, Popeyes Chicken and a Mexican chain restaurant.

Cici’s will anchor a 30,000-square-foot commercial strip center going in just north of New China on land between Marshall Road and John Harden Drive.

The developer received two major approvals at a special board of adjustment and planning commission meetings Monday night.

“This is an important development for the economic growth of this town,” said Tommy Bond, president of Bond Consulting Engineers and representing the developer.

“We still have a few issues to work out with the hospital board,” he told planning commissioners, “but that doesn’t affect what we are trying to do here tonight.”

The commission gave approval to the final plat of Haskin’s Com-mercial Addition, which includes the land left over from the building of the New China restaurant at the corner of Marshall and Main, along with one lot of the Rebsamen Medical Subdivision, owned by Rebsamen Medical Center.

Also, the Board of Adjustments gave a variance to the developer to allow 25-foot setbacks across the combined lots. Current zoning rules have 25-foot setbacks on one of the lots and 50 feet on the other. “The developer just won’t be able to get his buildings in with a 50-foot setback,” Bond said.

The developer is also in negotiations to buy a second lot from the hospital to enlarge his retail plans by 10,000 square feet.
Current plans call for at least two retail buildings with more than 30,000 square feet and close to 200 parking spaces. Cici’s and at least one other national outlet are set to be in the retail center, according to Bond.
The deal will go before the city council the first week of May for final approval.

After more than a year of working out details, Popeyes Chicken is slated to take over the vacant Burger King restaurant on Main Street near Jacksonville Middle School. Work should begin in early summer.

Finally, a development group recently purchased the vacant Shoney’s building on John Harden Drive for $385,000 and has plans to bring in a Mexican chain restaurant. It is unclear at this time if that restaurant will seek a private club permit like Chili’s Bar and Grill did to serve alcohol.

The purchasing group was Jacksonville BV LLC, led by Gus Blass III. They bought the property from Shoney’s Jacksonville Arkan-sas General Partnership, led by Robert Vogel.

Joe Croce opened the first Cici’s Pizza restaurant in Plano, Texas, in 1985. Cici’s locations offer an all-you-can-eat buffet stocked with pizza, pasta, salads and desserts.

The company, which began franchising in 1987, has more than 550 restaurants in 26 states, mostly in the southern United States.

It has average unit sales of almost $943,000.
Popeyes is currently opening about 200 new restaurants a year.