By Gary Budzak
Panera’s sandwiches, soups and salads should be served at 800 W. Central Ave. by the end of the year following Delaware City Council’s June 9 approval of the final development plan for the restaurant.
The Panera, with a drive thru and an outdoor patio, would be a 3,883 square-foot building on 1.4 acres northwest of the intersection of Central Ave. and Buehler Dr. it would have a 63-space parking lot with six 25-foot-high light poles. It would sit in front of Buehler’s Food Market, which owns the property.
Buehler’s received approval by the city last August to develop the land, which would be split into three parcels. Over the last couple months, the mound that obscured the store was removed, along with the barn and house on the property.
Planning Director David Efland called the Panera “long-awaited” and said the Planning Commission unanimously approved the plan, with 15 conditions.
Council then passed the ordinance approving the plan after the first reading by a 6-1 vote. Joe DiGenova (third ward) cast the sole no vote.
Prior to the vote, councilmen DiGenova and Kent Shafer (at large) had questions about traffic. According to the proposal, there would be a “relocation of the existing access drive onto West Central Avenue” and “a new right-in only curb cut on West Central Avenue.”
City Engineer Bill Ferrigno said that Central Ave. and Buehler Dr. was “a difficult intersection,” but felt that travel would not be significantly impacted by the Panera more than it already is. However, he said the city would continue to monitor the situation and make improvements “depending on what happens to the rest of the site.”
“It’s difficult to hold Panera responsible for an existing problem,” said councilwoman Lisa Keller.
Ian Aultman, engineer for MS Consultants, was asked when the Panera would be open.
“They want to start (construction) this summer,” Aultman said. “It usually takes two-to-three months for construction.” He expected it to be open by Christmas.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.