NORTH LIBERTY– North Liberty residents will soon be lovin’ it.
North Liberty officials and members of the business community welcomed representatives of Creative Management, Inc.– and even Ronald McDonald himself– as they broke ground for a new McDonald’s restaurant on Thursday, July 7. Franchise owner Kevin O’Brien will build the new McDonald’s near the corner of Highway 965 and Penn Street, at 675 Pacha Parkway in North Liberty.
America’s most iconic fast-food restaurant has been part of the Grand Rail North commercial development plan since O’Brien first brought the concept plan to the North Liberty council in 2006. It was put on hold, then reappeared before the council last November, 2010, when it was unanimously approved.
In his remarks before the groundbreaking last Thursday, Mayor Tom Salm told the gathering of about 30 people that the community of North Liberty has anxiously been awaiting the arrival the restaurant.
“I have to say, that’s the most frequently asked question; when is the McDonald’s coming?” said Salm.
In a speech to the crowd, O’Brien asked builder Hunter Parks to estimate when the restaurant would be open. Parks said they are shooting for fall 2011.
O’Brien said after the groundbreaking that there were several reasons for the lengthy delay in bringing the McDonald’s to North Liberty, including changes to its overall design plan.
“Originally, it was going to be a free-standing building,” said O’Brien. “Since then, McDonald’s has come up with the street retail concept, so the design went through a few evolutions. They wanted to make sure to get it right, and that it was what we wanted.”
O’Brien said the retail center concept allows for some economical efficiencies for businesses operating out of the center. In this case, O’Brien and business partner Mike Evans own the other buildings in the Penn Landing commercial center, where the businesses of Roadies, Azul Tequila, AlphaGraphics and Capanna Coffee are located.
“We have a vested interest in other businesses that come into this project,” said O’Brien. “We plan to do a lot of co-marketing with other businesses and create a draw for them as well. We are competitive, but we complement each other. We want this to be the destination spot.”
McDonald’s will occupy about half of an 8,000 sq. ft. building, with an appearance similar to the newly reopened McDonald’s in Coralville. The North Liberty location will be the ninth McDonald’s restaurant owned by O’Brien and managed by Creative Management. According to Creative Management Human Resources and Marketing Generalist Karla Kammerer Shedd, the new business will create about 60 jobs, and plans are for the restaurant to be open 24 hours at least for the first few months, to test the best hours of operation. The décor will be contemporary, with WiFi capabilities and flat screen televisions.
“We want this to be a center where we do festivals, and everybody gets to showcase their businesses,” said O’Brien. “We will work to be step-up members of the community and be leaders here.