LAKEWOOD RANCH — It’s not yet set in stone, but Lakewood Ranch could soon have a set of golden arches.
DDRN Lakewood Ranch LLC has submitted a final site plan to Manatee County for the development of a McDonald’s drive-thru restaurant near the southeast corner of Lakewood Ranch Boulevard and State Road 64. The restaurant would be part of the existing Lakewood Ranch Commerce Park and is located along State Road 64 frontage, just east of the corner gas station.
The plan was submitted in late November and now is undergoing its final round of administrative approval by Manatee County planning staff. DDRN also has applied for a building permit, which has not yet been issued.
“This is an out parcel, so they don’t have to go back to the board (of county commissioners for approval) as long as they meet the requirements,” Manatee County planner Rob Wenzel said.
A McDonald’s spokesperson confirmed the company was looking at the location, but said no plans were definite at this point.
“McDonald’s is always looking for opportunities for growth in the communities where we do business,” Robert Stamm, real estate manager for McDonald’s Florida region, said in a statement. “While we’re interested in development at this location, it’s premature to speculate as final decisions have not been made.”
Over the years, it has been assumed no fast food restaurants were allowed in Lakewood Ranch, but Rex Jensen, president and CEO of Lakewood Ranch developer Schroeder-Manatee Ranch, said the idea is a myth.
The belief may stem from the time when Lakewood Ranch was first developing, he said. At the time, SMR worked hard to ensure the intersection at University Parkway did not look like other interchanges in Manatee County, with fast food restaurants and other businesses on each corner.
“Those days have long passed,” Jensen said. “I think it’d be great for the area. It means people don’t have to drive to the other side of the interstate to get fast food. And that’s fine with me. Keep the trips here.”
Wenzel said he did not know how quickly the applicant hoped to move forward with the project but noted if it responds to county concerns quickly and gets building permit approval, construction should be able to begin within a few months.
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