Citing concerns about traffic and drive-thru noise, an Evanston city panel Wednesday recommended against city approval of a McDonald’s restaurant proposed for 2500 Gross Point Road.

View Larger Map

Top: A rendering of a McDonald’s restaurant presented at Wednesday’s meeting. Above, a Google map showing the site’s relationship to the neighborhood. Below: A site plan for the project.

The city’s head planner, Dennis Marino, said the 24-hour drive-thru operating just a few feet from the property line of homes on Princeton Avenue would have a negative impact on the neighborhood.

Marino, and City Engineer Sat Nagar, also objected to the proposed traffic flow to and from the site.

They suggested that the right-turn only exit onto Harrison Street would lead many patrons arriving from the east to use Princeton Avenue as a shortcut to Central Street for their return trip.

Attorney Bridget O’Keefe and other representatives from McDonald’s argued instead that the exit would be a convenience for commuters who, instead of returning home after stopping at the restaurant for breakfast or lunch, would continue on westward to the Edens Expressway.

Nagar also suggested that, given the way traffic backs up at the intersection, the planned left turn exit onto Gross Point Road probably wouldn’t work.

A handful of neighbors turned out at the afternoon meeting of the city’s Site Plan and Appearance Review Committee to oppose the project.

Craig McClure of 2507 Princeton Ave. said, “This is everything I feared and more.”

He said he and his partner knew they were buying next to commercially zoned property when they bought their home in 2004, but they never would have purchased it if there’d been a McDonald’s on the site.

Craig McClure, of 2507 Princeton Ave., points toward the restaurant plans while speaking at the SPARC meeting.

“Frankly I don’t want to see your building. I don’t want to see a McDonald’s behind my house. I’m very pro-business for Evanston, but I think this is the wrong business for the site.”

In the face of strong neighborhood opposition, aldermen last week rejected plans for a Chase Bank branch two blocks away from the proposed McDonald’s site.

“If it were a Chase Bank proposed for this lot,” McClure said, “I’d be welcoming it with open arms,” but McDonald’s, he said, would result in a serious decline in home values.

The proposal also drew fire for less site-specific concerns.

Kids fidget as mom tries to protect them from fast food.

Dana Gerstein of 2708 Simpson St. brought her three young children to the meeting, and as they fidgeted in their seats, she told the committee that fast food meals are higher in calories, fat and sodium than food consumed elsewhere.

Gerstein said approving the McDonald’s would go against the mission of the Evanston Food Council to create a healthy food environment in the city.

The project needs city approval for a special use permit for the carry-out style restaurant and for the drive-thru. O’Keefe indicated that McDonald’s would likely try to revise its plans and seek another review by  SPARC before moving on to a hearing before the Zoning Board of Appeals.

A ZBA recommendation would then go to the City Council for a final decision.

Related story

McDonald’s planned for Gross Point Road in Evanston

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. “Frankly, I don’t want to see your building…”

    Craig: You don't want to smell it, either, nor have the folks who eat there after midnight throwing their trash on your front lawn.

  2. What a bad idea!

    Let's see . . .  disgusting grease odors, the ugliest of building designs, unhealthy food options, auto-centric business plan, high-carbon footprint business . . . now, who's idea was this? Why would we ever want this in our neighborhood?  Not just a bad idea . . . a terrible idea!

  3. Chick-fil-A

    Good, now we can lobby for a Chick-fil-A. It has better food than McDonalds and will attract a better class of people than Evanston is accustomed to.

    1. Chick-Fil-A’s a worse neighbor than McDonald’s

      No.That's what I thought, too, until a Chick-Fil-A was built on the corner of Sunset and Highland, just around the corner from my house in Hollywood.

      They are about the worst neighbors we've had in twenty years, including the McDonald/s that was once adjacent.

      The Chick-fil-A replaced a seedy Carl's Jr., so I, like you, thought that we were coming up in the world, but it turned out to be a poorly, possibly illegally designed nighmare. It has no indoor seating, seats only forty people on its patio, and has only twelve parking spaces.

      But it has double drive-thru lanes that merge once victims are trapped on the property, and it makes for a constant traffic jam that wraps the block and shuts down the entrance to our street.

      What's worse is the garbage problem that's caused by the place having a much higher business volume than it can contain on its property. The customers overrun our streets and sit, in their idling cars, in front of our houses, gorging on chicken. They overtake and overwhelm the parking lots of other local businesses as well. When they're through, they just roll down their windows and hurl their Chick-fil-A garbage onto out streets, sidewalks, and parking lots.

      Thanks to Chick-fil-A, we wake up every day with our neighborhood looking like a fairgrounds midway on the morning after. Managers repeatedly state that neighborhood garbage is not their concern. The operator, (they'll franchise to any low-life with the cash,)  can not be reached, and the Chick-fil-A website's line, "Chick-fil-A cares, means nothing and gets you nowhere. Trust me.Any neighbor is better than Chick-fil-A. An actual chicken farm and processing plant would make for better conditions.

      1. Strange Chick-fil-a

        Living in Hollywood, you have a lot of strange, This may be the reason you have a strange Chick-fil-a. I have never heard of a CFA without indoor eating area. Some do have a patio to compliment the indoor area.

        I looked up this location on the web and found that it was in the national news 2 weeks ago. It seemed that some protesters against free speech defaced the building because they did not agree with the opinion of CFA's CEO. The police were called and nobody was arrested.

        Considering that this Chick-fil-a received nothing but 4 and 5 stars in the ratings until last week, I think that your opinion of this facility is not the norm.

        If CFA is going to be protested if they try to come to Evanston, let them move to Skokie. That is not too far to travel for a great sandwich.

        Evanston should shoot for a Culver's and hope that they do not participate in free speech. They are also near the top of fast food dining.

        1. I Speak For My Neighborhood

          Dear Anonymous Chic-Fil-A Enthusiast,

          This article was not about food quality, customer enjoyment, or online reviews.  The great reviews that you read about my neighborhood's Chic-Fil-A were written by the same hoards of people who disrespect my neighborhood and fill our streets with Chic-Fil-A garbage.  No one who lives here will eat there anymore.  I didn't mention the recent Chic-Fil-A controversy because it was not my issue. Our issue, that Chic-Fil-A has proven more detrimental to our neighborhood than McDolanalds, Carl's Jr., or any other business, has been going on since it opened in September.  I grew up with Chic-Fil-A, and I was excited when it came, until it turned into a monster.  I'd also like to reiterate.  Whether you've heard of or read of the practice, the Chic-Fil-A at Sunset and Highland has no indoor dining area.  

  4. Not a 24-hour drive-through

    A 24 hour anything would be terrible for our property values! 

    I would not mind the Chase Bank here and perhaps a non-drive-through type business/restaurant where the gas station is located (or even a small strip mall with a Red Mango/Chinese restaurant chain), but NOT ANOTHER  DRIVE THROUGH AND NOTHING OPEN 24 HOURS. 

    The Winnetka McDonald's is actually fairly nice. I have driven up there with my family when they "have to" buy a Happy Meal toy….I have mixed feelings.  I know that a lot of the food is awfully bad for you but they do offer some healthy choices and I know that they would make a ton of money from the folks in the neighborhood (even though no one wants to admit it). 

    The problem is no one else is coming up with a viable alternative and the city is going to have  to make a decision at some point to put something in these vacant locations.  I was actually happy about the Starbucks, so if something more upscale (even fast food) is proposed, I would be in favor!

  5. Too much congestion in the arteries

    Also close down McDonald's at Dempster and Dodge. Too much congestionn too.

    And for health reasons, close ALL the high fat, high sugar fast food places. There's  too much congestion in the arteries of the citizens.

      1. Evanston — the city with 1%

        Evanston — the city with 1% tastes and a 99% pocketbook, to use the current vernacular!

  6. McDonalds and Veolia Neighborhood Concerns

    The proposed McDonalds will impact the nearby homes with noise, smells, traffic and litter.  Just like the Veolia garbage dump does on the West side.

    Northwest residents learn a lesson from the West side, fight now because in a few years people will ask you why are you complaining since you moved next to a 24 hours McDonalds….even though you lived there first.

  7. San Bernadino CA files bankrupcy- same debt level per person

    This was a dumb move.

    DO you all not realize that cities are filing bankrupcy around the country?

    San Bernadino, CA was in debt 1 billion dollars, and just filed bankrupcy a week ago.  THis city has a population of 210,000 people.  

    Evanston has a population of 75,000 and debt levels of 331 million. Do the math- We are roughly the same.

    Not to mention that the state of Illinois is going to push the teacher pensions to the district(s) school budgets, which will add on another $5.5 million in liabilities yearly.

    WE need every penny right now.  



    1. Bankruptcy


      The liability is much worse. That $5.5 million assumes an 8%+ rate of return. If they use 5.5% (more realistic) that will be even greater. Combine that with a cap that will allow only a 5% or CPI (whichever is lower) tax increase and the only solution is to cut services!

      They will diddle until after the election, adding $12 million per day to the future burden.

      1. rate of return assumptions, bankrupcy, city plans?

        Thanks Vito for that clarification-

          I honestly am very worried about all of this- I don't see any possible way out of this incredible debt burden.

        If someone else knows what the city plans to do about it or the timeline for these liabilities- please share-

        Raising taxes again?  If so, how much are we talking?

        Privatizing services? 

        Cutting public service? If so, how much?  What is the operating budget yearly right now?

        Going bankrupt and renegotiating pensions?

        Yikes.  A bankrupt town will probably affect property values a hell of a lot more than placing a McDonalds across from a cemetary and liquor store..  I'm just sayin…




  8. Let’s close the one on Dempster while we are at it

    Avoid at all costs! Who needs one of these in their neighborhood when you can drive to Winnetks and visit such a nice one?

    Wish I had a buck for every fry box, cup, wrapper or plastic straw I have picked up  from my lawn and my neigbors' over the past 25 years here on Dempster. McDonald's promised this neigborhood that trash would be their responsibility when they met w/ neighbors near the Dempster location.  Cheap talk..never happened. Not eatng there is a perogative, having to deal with garbage strewn over a neighborhood is not. Sure it is  the slobs who leave a trail from McDonald's  and Burger KIng down Dempster, but if these businesses were not here we would be spared their sea of trash.

    1. Fast food trash dumping

      Is it possible that there is an ingredient in fast food that attacks the central nervous system?

      It appears to act within several blocks after they begin consuming the food. We live several blocks from Dempster/Dodge and the amount of strewn litter seems to peak after several blocks.  Examing the litter indicates that it was dropped with involuntary motions, since some of it was not consumed. Shouldn't the city food inspectors be concerned? I think it is more important that whether or not the staff wears kilts.

      Could it be the IDIOT (Involuntary Dropping Incidents Of Trash) Syndrome?

  9. Another revenue opportunity lost

    Oooh, gee!  Evanstonians tank another revenue making opportunity!!  What a surprise!!

    1. What revenue are you talking about?

      I would like to know what tax revenue this poster is talking about. There is almost no sales tax on food, so what is the municipal tax for "fast" food?  It certainly is not as much as the sales taxes from a retail store.  It would be interesting to know how much actual "revenue" the current McDonald's locations in Evanston contribute. 

      1. Sales tax

        The sales tax on restaurant food is the same as on other general merchandise … 9.25 percent in Evanston.

        You're thinking of the lower … 2.25 percent … sales tax on food at the grocery store.

        More from Illinois Department of Revenue.

        — Bill

        1. Sales tax

          Interesting that restaurant food is charged the same tax as retail goods.  Thanks Bill for researching this!  More reasons to cook at home.  🙂

Leave a comment
The goal of our comment policy is to make the comments section a vibrant yet civil space. Treat each other with respect — even the people you disagree with. Whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims.

Your email address will not be published.