Panera project on Garland is dead, owner ‘considering other options’

The parking lot on the left may soon be a restaurant with liquor sales, while the office building will soon be a Panera. (Photo from Google Maps)

The drive-thru proved to be the sticking point for the Garland Road Panera project, which has died on the vine.

“Councilman [Mark] Clayton is firm. He will not support Panera Bread or any other restaurant with a drive-thru window,” says Robert Reeves of  Robert Reeves & Associates, Inc. , the zoning consultant working with Oklahoma-based developer Onyx Holdings, LLC. “Panera Bread is not interested without a drive-thru window. My client considering other options.”

Clayton concurs that he was staunchly against the idea of a drive-thru at the site that currently houses medical office buildings (the owner bought two plots, 9323 and 9239 Garland, which flank Beachview). The newly reelected councilman says the idea was unpopular with neighbors and went against the best practices of the Garland Road Vision, a document created in 2010 to guide development in the neighborhood.

“I’ve always tried to use that to guide my decisions,” Clayton says of the Garland Road Vision.

He is confident there is a better option on the horizon. “We’re going to get something way better than a Panera,” he says.

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    Folks, Mark Clayton is being less than honest about this whole Panera thing. Maybe he is waiting for the owners to sell? Maybe he has a pet project/developer in mind? It’s a real headscratcher! The reasons he gives for not allowing the Panera Bread to go through make no sense at all…..a) He says he is looking beyond Panera regarding the drive-thru (doesn’t want a fast food restaurant to someday come in), HOWEVER, what he doesn’t truthfully tell anyone is the developers offered to write it in the plan that the drive-thru would only apply to Panera and nothing else. b) He says “the neighborhood doesn’t want it”. Correction, Mark Clayton doesn’t want it! More than 80% of people polled (200+ respondents), want it with or without the stupid drive-thru. Honestly, who really gives a crap except for a handful of local utopians that have crazy ideas about making Garland Rd. smaller and walkable. Go smoke another joint. It’s a needed artery for traffic. I need to get from Point A to Point B like everyone else in the quickest manner possible. As far as I’m concerned, let’s add another lane each way!! (who do we call at the State of Texas Highway Department??) c) He claims that “something way better is coming”. Sounds like a line of politician BS to me. d) He won’t engage the developers—they try to call and email him—no response. I’m sorry, isn’t this his job?? And finally, the biggest whopper of them all…. e) He says he uses the Garland Road Vision as his road map for development. Well that’s funny, because I have seen with my own eyes a copy of a letter dated July 26 addressed to Plan Commissioner Michael Jung from the two co-chairs of the Garland Road Vision (public access to the case file is available at City Hall–Zoning Case Z156-281). They both ENDORSE the Panera project for God’s sake!! Wassup with this Mark?? Just approve the dang thing so we can all move on!

  • plsiii

    When you think of “several hundred thousand possibly one million” as money you could save/not spend/profit, it’s something, but too much?!? Considering what they paid for the land and what it takes to get a Panera franchise I’m guessing it’s the path of least resistance… Or was…

    I think the way it works is developer buys land, developer clears land, developer finds highest paying leasee and cares not what is done with/on the land. We have to change that equation for the developer, for ourselves and not least of all our environment.

    When you think of that money as useful in giving an existing structure a second life and saving all the embodied energy in tearing it down (the physical act, but also where does all that debris go, how it gets there etc…) not to mention building whatever is to replace it… that’s not a lot of money.

    To be clear, it wasn’t a NO to Panera, it was a no to Panera with a Drive-Thru, if they are/were truly community focused and serving they would have listened to the neighbors. When you think of their other locations (not on interstates in DFW) they do not have drive-thrus (Lemmon Ave, Park Lane, Preston etc…) Also we’re fairly saturated with drive thru’s, I know “what’s one more,” but smart, pedestrian friendly development, is what we need to serve our neighborhoods and White Rock Lake and park…

    I don’t think the apartments are a done deal, but density is coming no matter… so we need to prepare, not by building drive thrus, but by improving infrastructure to accommodate different modes of transportation and utilize that transportation, as well as being smarter about pushing commuter traffic out to the interstates where it belongs.

  • Michael Williams

    I smell some old musty money behind this. Someone who “is” wants that property.

  • Michael Williams

    He said at one of the neighborhood meetings that to remediate the problem would cost several hundred thousand possibly one million.
    That’s too much in my book.
    But we’ll soon have some more square footage when the new apartments go up and bring in at least 500 extra cars. What’s the difference between that and a Panera? Mr. Clayton has been Silent Sam on that. Perhaps a matching project could be built where the old Albertson’s is on Mockingbird

  • plsiii

    Define “too much” ?!? …Asbestos can be abated and I’ll give you the existing building isn’t much to look at currently, but it could be. I’m guessing the asbestos is just an easy excuse to scrape the building. Not that the current owner needs an excuse at all, he owns it. It’s just a drag that they’re gonna tear down almost 40,000 square feet of usable space to construct almost 4,000.

  • Michael Williams

    Well we will have some lovely apartments and the traffic they will bring about 500 extra cars. But that’s only Garland Road, isn’t it?

  • Michael Williams

    But he has been very quiet about the apartments near the old Presbyterian church. I smell some old money talking

  • Michael Williams

    Too much asbestos

  • plsiii

    Who are the GRV co-chairs? I’ve emailed through the website but no one responded… We need to think bigger than just another drive thru for these properties that are coming available and presenting great opportunities to make a difference and impact community and respond to the great resource that is white rock lake and adjacent parkland. Let’s encourage getting out of our vehicles, walking/biking and taking in the surroundings not just barreling through at 40-60 mph.

  • East Dallaser

    I know for a fact that the GRV co-chairs endorsed the Panera. Furthermore, there was a poll conducted on Nextdoor where more than 80% of Clayton’s constituents was for the Panera. I’m also told that the owners are now talking with a Methadone clinic…bot saying its true but that wpuls surely hurt Clayton’s re-election bid.

  • plsiii

    Maybe the building at 9323 could be re-imagined (larger/more fenestration along with a facelift) as a mixed use development, retail on the lower level, co-working and makerspace above, roof top bar & grill with WRLake views on top!

  • Stejay Bee

    I support this. thanks mark.

  • Garrett T. Monroe

    This is disappointing. Panera is a wonderful company with a terrific record of giving back to the community, particularly those in the community who are not so fortunate as to say “No!” to a drive thru window.