ROGERS PARK — A Chicago area Burger King magnate has his sights set on an empty plot of land on Clark Street, but some residents fear the proposed drive-thru restaurant will add to traffic congestion.
Adam Velarde, who did not return multiple phone calls, has proposed building the fast-food restaurant at 7513 N. Clark St.
While the proposal doesn't require a zoning change, it needs approval fom the Chicago Plan Commission and City Council, said Jessica Schramm, Velarde's attorney.
Neighbors caught wind of the proposal after notices were mailed to residents living near the proposed restaurant site.
One of those neighbors, Steve Hueffner, isn't so keen on a new Burger King.
The 31-year-old tax accountant started an online petition to ban the development. As of Thursday afternoon, he had collected 88 signatures.
"What is this business ... going to bring to the neighborhood and what will it cost?" he asked.
He said he was worried the drive-thru would bring too many cars to the cramped lanes of Clark Street and endanger pedestrians and bicyclists.
"I’m not against development. I certainly want Rogers Park to thrive," he said. "But I don’t think a Burger King is the best neighbor to have."
The entrance to the planned drive-thru would be within the existing parking lot in the Gateway Centr, and no additional entrances would be added to Clark Street, according to site plans.
Burger King Corp. signed a 21-year lease with the management company of the shopping center on April 23, according to state records.
Records also show Velarde operates several other Burger King restaurants, including in Park Ridge, Skokie and Bolingbrook.
Schramm said he was a "successful and well-respected" franchise owner.
"There should be some comfort in that," she said. "This isn’t his first time opening and running a restaurant."
Some neighbors welcome the development in a lot that's been empty for so long.
"The last time something exciting happened there was last summer," said Darrin Flynn, 45, who lives nearby. "Somebody was supposedly giving away free cell phones."
Ald. Joe Moore (49th) said a community meeting about the proposal will be held this month.