The old Panera building in Scio Township is hoping to evolve


The old Panera at 5340 Jackson Road. photo by Lonnie Huhman

With the old Panera on Jackson Road closed, developers of it are hoping to make the building more attractive for a new tenant, specifically one that might want to serve food and have a drive-thru option.

At the Sept. 26 Scio Township Board meeting, an application requesting conditional use approval to add a drive-through to the existing building located at 5340 Jackson Road went before the board.

The Sun Times News followed up with township supervisor Will Hathaway about this request. He gave some background as to what led to this.

“The Panera that had been at that location for many years has relocated to a new building on Zeeb Road,” Hathaway said. “The new location is a drive thru. The owner of the former Panera location wants to convert that building to a drive thru and attract a new restaurant tenant.”

The site in question contains 1.695 acres and had been previously developed as a Panera Bread restaurant without a drive-through and zoned C-2, General Commercial, according to township planning officials.

Township planners said the developer’s project narrative states:

“5340 Jackson Road, LLC is the property owner of the building and parking lot that the existing Panera Bread is located. The manager and applicant, Curtis Commercial, LLC understands that Panera Bread has relocated to a new space that will have a drive-through and smaller parking lot and floor area. The current trend in smaller restaurant chains is to have access to drive-through to accommodate call-ahead ordering and take-out options for changing habits of customer demands. 5340 Jackson Road will also need to evolve the space to accommodate this site to stay competitive in the market. This project will seek to accomplish this by completing the following improvements…”

One being, the project will seek conditional use for the drive-through proposed at the back of the building.

“As discussed with the developer, the subject site is viewed as a part of a larger ‘mixed-use’ site with shared access and parking with the properties located directly to the west and east,” the township board meeting report said. “Mixed Use developments are considered a conditional use in the JROD district. The Planning Commission recommended denial. The applicant has provided additional information subsequent to the Planning Commission's action. The Board of Trustees could approve a Conditional Use Permit based on the new information. Alternatively, the Board may affirm the Planning Commission's recommendation of denial or return the proposal to the Planning Commission for reconsideration based on the new information.”

Township officials said since the Planning Commission’s consideration and recommendation of denial, the applicant has provided additional information which includes a revised site plan with cover letter and traffic impact assessment study.

Hathaway said after some discussion, the township board voted to send the project back to the Planning Commission so that they could review the new information, including the traffic study.

“The Board hopes that the Planning Commission will act at its October meeting and that the proposal will come back to the Board immediately afterward,” Hathaway said.

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