A drive-thru Starbucks took another step to setting up shop on York Boulevard after a successful city Planning Department hearing on the proposed layout of the coffee shop. The former fast food Classic Burger on York Boulevard near Figueroa Street will be converted into a Starbucks Coffee with a drive-thru addition to the approximately 1,200-square-foot building. The dining room and patio of the proposed Starbucks would seat approximately 30 people, with new landscaping and a number of other additions to the parking lot.
After a hearing last week, a zoning administrator approved the case, however, the detailed decision letter has not been sent out yet, said Christina Toy Lee, Associate Zoning Administrator, in an email this week.
Landlord Dan Mellinkoff approached the Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council early this year with the proposal to convert Classic Burger, which shut down in July, into a Starbucks. The council had a number of concerns, but Mellinkoff had already approached Starbucks and had established a comprehensive plan for the conversion. Starbucks already operates a drive-thru outlet only about two miles away on the western end of York Boulevard in Eagle Rock, meaning York Boulevard would be bookended by Frappuccinos if the chain agreed to opened a store at the Classic Burger location.
“At that point [Mellinkoff] and Starbucks came to us pretty early on with their plans and they were prepared,” said says Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council board member Harvey Slater. “We really didn’t have much time to raise any concerns, as they were coming to the council with a lot of the work done,”
The proposed project will add onto the building a drive-thru window, which is a cause for concern for some people in the neighborhood.
Gloria Trejo, board member of the Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council, would prefer a sit down cafe rather that one she feels would only cater to South Pasadena commuters.
Other members of the council see the area in need of the shot in the arm that Starbucks would provide.
“This will serve as an anchor location to an already blighted area that understands the drive-thru mentality,” said Tina Gulotta-Miller of the Garvanza Improvement Association.
The number of renovations that are being proposed to the parking area of the former Classic Burger are a retaining wall that will act as a buffer to the nearby homes, along with a new rock garden and a bike rack.
At the zoning board meeting, Mellinkoff and Starbucks representatives offered a traffic report from the Los Angeles Department of Transportation that stated there would only be a “low-net increase” in traffic. The office of City Council member Jose Huizar offered its support at the hearing as well.
Mellinkoff said after the zoning board meeting, “We still have a lot of work ahead of us.”
One concern for local resident Amy Krell who lives adjacent to the Burger King on York Boulevard is that the hours of activity at the proposed Starbucks location will disturb nearby residences.
“I’ve had a horrible 10 years with Burger King. I can hear their speaker box in my restroom. And it’s not only the dining hours, but also the drive-thru customers who come through at midnight, and the late night deliveries,” said Krell.
In response, a Starbucks representative said that number of provisions have been requested by the neighborhood council to accommodate nearby residents. One is a retaining wall that would act as a buffer to the nearby apartments and a sophisticated speaker box that will adjust the decibel output according to the level of noise that is in the surrounding area. Whether or not that will be enough for nearby residents remains to be seen.
“I’m just concerned for the people in the area who are going to have to live by the Starbucks, because we all know it’s going to be full of activity from opening to closing,” said Krell.
When pressed if she’s against a Starbucks in the area Krell clarified that she’s hesitant of the drive-thru.
“But I would love a Starbucks in the area. They already have half of all my money.”