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

The fate of a defunct office building and parking lot flanking Beachview at Garland Road is being hashed out between developers and city officials, but it may all come down to a drive-thru. Their request for liquor at a historically dry property, however, hasn’t ruffled any feathers.

“I think they know I won’t give them a drive-thru,” says City Councilman Mark Clayton. “The neighbors do not want it.”

The “they” to which he refers is applicant Robert Reeves & Associates, Inc. , filing on behalf of the Oklahoma-based developer Onyx Holdings, LLC. The developer secured two plots of land, at 9323 and 9239 Garland, currently home to a defunct three-story office complex and a parking lot. Panera is interested in the office-complex site, but their planned store model demands a drive-thru.

“It’s a new concept they’re trying out,” says Olga Torres Holyoak, the city planner assigned to this project.

But not in East Dallas, Clayton says, adamant that a drive-thru is not an appropriate addition to the busy thoroughfare.

“We’re hoping [Clayton] will change his mind, or Panera bread will change its mind” about the drive-thru, says Robert Reeves, the consultant representing the developers. “We’re trying to get this resolved and, quite frankly, we don’t have that done.”

Reeves says they are waiting to take the Panera project before the Dallas City Council for final approval until the drive-thru issues has been settled.

Plans for the parking-lot plot across the way on Beachview have not been defined, but do involve stripping the land of the existing “Dry Overlay,” a leftover from the strict liquor laws that existed when Dallas was dry. Colloquially known as “Hard D” zoning, it was meant to protect the neighborhood character from businesses that serve or sell booze.

But Reeves points out that the neighborhood is anything but dry, in fact, Urban Vines Wine Bistro is right next door.

“Everything in that neighborhood is wet except for these seven lots,” Reeves says, adding that they would have also requested this change at the Panera property, but it sits within 300 feet of a church, making it ineligible for alcohol sales.

Although Lakewood Councilman Philip Kingston says the general city policy is to protect “Hard D” zoning, in August, the City Plan Commission approved the developer’s request to convert it to a D1-Liquor Control Overlay District, which would allow an incoming business to seek a special use permit to sell or serve alcohol.

Reeves says they don’t have any specific business in mind for the parking-lot plot, but want to make the property as attractive as possible to potential tenants.

“The ability to have alcoholic sales would be a major plus and something any restaurant would want,” he adds.

Clayton says he hopes to see an independent business in the second plot, a trade-off for the national chain planned across the way. “In exchange, you’ve got to give me a local sit-down restaurant on the other site,” he says.

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