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Chipotle 8.31.18

Eight months after the Decatur City Council approved rezoning for a new development anchored by Chipotle Mexican Grill, construction has not started for the project at the corner of North Water Street and West Ash Avenue. A spokesperson from Chipotle confirmed Friday afternoon that the restaurant will not open until 2019.

DECATUR — The much-anticipated Chipotle Mexican Grill planned for the city's north side will not open until 2019, a company spokesperson confirmed Friday.

A representative for developer GMX Real Estate LLC previously said they hoped to complete construction by the end of this year on a shopping center that would include Chipotle and other businesses.

Interim City Manager Billy Tyus said Friday afternoon that the developer is still working to fill the additional space.

“That is standard to this kind of development,” he said, adding the developer wanted to work with residents whose homes are on the site and not “push” anyone through the relocation process. 

The Decatur City Council approved plans for the project at West Ash Avenue and U.S. Business 51 on Jan. 2. The 5-2 vote came after heated protests from neighbors, who voiced concerns about traffic, safety and the potential negative effect on their property values.

The freestanding restaurant would be part of a 10,400-square-foot development, according to plans submitted by the developer. The project was planned to include one other restaurant, two stores and a medical office. It would have 82 parking spaces.

GMX co-manager Andrew Goodman, who was the public face of the group during the initial planning, did not return multiple messages left this week at his office and on his cellphone. He has not returned any messages seeking updates since the city council approved the rezoning for the site.

The decision to allow commercial development in the residential area on the west side of U.S. Business 51 has been contentious. Residents said they dreaded the project's effect on their well-established, peaceful neighborhood, which already experienced high traffic. 

Bob Bridgeman of Glen Carbon said he would take alternate routes to avoid the busy intersection whenever he visited his father, Lloyd Powell. Following Powell's death in December, Bridgeman now faces the challenge of selling a home that is less than two blocks from the project site.

Bridgeman, 68, said he does not understand why the developers could not have built the project on the east side of the highway. A hub of retail stores and restaurants there includes Walmart, Walgreens, Panera and Monical's. 

"With all the commercial stuff on the other side of the highway, why do you need to come this way?" he said.

Charissa McCain, 56, said she works in the area and has witnessed several traffic accidents at Ash Avenue and U.S. Business 51. The area is already dangerous, she said, and Decatur has enough restaurants. 

"They should bring more clothing stores," McCain said. "I probably won't eat there."

Not everyone agrees. When the city of Decatur surveyed residents in 2014 about their most desired new businesses, Chipotle placed at the top

Devotees are willing to go the extra mile to fulfill their cravings. Makenzie Aubert, 22, said she has family members who like the restaurant so much that they'll travel out of town to eat there. She's a fan, too, and especially appreciates the availability of healthier options.

"I think it would be good for Decatur," said Aubert, who used to live in the neighborhood near the project site and now attends college in Bloomington. "A lot of people love Chipotle."

With its high-traffic location near Interstate 72, the intersection has long been targeted by developers. The council previously rejected a rezoning proposal in 2015 that would have allowed an Aldi grocery store to build on the site.

The project is among several developments planned for the north side of Decatur along U.S. Business 51.

The council has also approved a rezoning to allow a two building, 18,000 square foot development on West Mound Road across from Target that would include medical and general offices, retail space and an unspecified proposal for a 4,800-square-foot building with a drive-thru.

A new $2 million fire station is planned just west of that development off Mound Road and Greenridge Drive.

Donnette Beckett of the Herald & Review contributed to this story. 


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Contact Ryan Voyles at (217) 421-7985. Follow him on Twitter: @RVVoyles

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Macon County Reporter

Macon County reporter for the Herald & Review.

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