Panera Bread opts for prototype on city’s eastern edge


North Ridgeville

The site of a demolished mobile home park, and later a proposed Cleveland Clinic installation that subsequently located elsewhere, has become the new home for a Panera Bread restaurant.

With an inside capacity of up to 125 customers, the 4,260-square-foot eatery will sit on property between Cook and Lorain roads, near the I-480 ramps on the eastern city limits. A drive-thru window will occupy one side of the building, a concept just recently employed by the company. There will also be a patio.

“We’re very excited to come to North Ridgeville,” Kim Phillips, president of Phillips/Sekanick Architects, told Planning Commission members at their Aug. 10 meeting. “We think it’s a very good spot. We have presented to you how we plan to lay out the new drive-thru prototype.”

Mayor Dave Gillock was pleased by the potential economic boost to that particular section of the city.

“We certainly welcome Panera Bread,” he said at the meeting. “There’s a lot of interest in seeing development in that area. We’re glad to see it there. I really like the concept.”

Residents, however, worried about water runoff, as well as buffering and traffic flows.

“What are you going to do about the drainage?” Pat Ryan, of Cook Road, asked. “We don’t have storm sewers. It’s no problem to you, but it is for me.”

Mark Skellenger, co-owner and vice president of KS Associates, responded that his engineering company did the site plan, and the drainage outlet on

Lorain Road “is deep enough to handle the runoff from this property.”

“This project will solve that drainage problem,” Skellenger asserted. “There’s a low spot … and we know how to deal with that.”

He went on to tell resident Sandy Ryan, who asked about fencing or trees to shield the restaurant and road from residences, “landscaping will screen the roadway very, very well, no matter what the current ordinances say.”

“You can count on the staff to follow the laws,” he continued. “My clients are good guys, and they want to be good neighbors also. It’s going to look good in five years, and it’s going to look good the day it opens. It’s just the way my client and I feel about it when we put a new building in.”

Cook Road resident Dick Sullinger voiced concerns about vehicles entering and exiting the establishment.

“There will be more traffic generated on Cook Road,” Sullinger said. “Is the city prepared to make the additional changes to address the traffic?”

The mayor responded the city is “in the process now of completing plans for that intersection.”

“We’re also going to get a light at Lorain and (I-)480, so there’s already a lot of things in process to address those traffic concerns,” Gillock said.

Prior to Planning Commission’s vote, member Jim Hurst reminded the audience of the scope of the Panera Bread project.

“This is a big commitment … on everybody’s part to step into this area (of North Ridgeville),” he said, “and to initiate construction of this part of the city.”

The motion to approve the site plan passed 5-0. Planning Commission’s next regularly scheduled meeting will be at 7 p.m. Sept. 14 in Council Chambers.

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