A local developer who has renovated and continues to fix up flood-damaged storefronts in Czech Village has stepped up with a proposal to bring the flood-damaged A&W Family Restaurant, 1132 Ellis Blvd. NW, back to life at the Time Check Neighborhood.
Baron Stark, of Stark Real Estate Holdings Inc., on Monday said he intends to restore the restaurant to its historic, carhop past and to add a new section to the structure to allow customers to sit inside or on an outdoor patio to eat.
The city had been prepared to demolish the restaurant after buying it from the previous owner as part of the city’s program of buying out flood-damaged structures, a program funded mostly by federal and state dollars.
However, neighborhood leaders and residents asked the city to delay the demolition and seek redevelopment proposals for the former A&W, which the City Council agreed to do. Stark was the only one to submit a proposal, according to city officials.
On Tuesday, the City Council is expected to vote to direct the city manager to negotiate a development agreement with Stark for the A&W site.
Stark is proposing to buy three city-owned parcels of property at the site, two on which the existing restaurant sits and a third one next door that is now vacant and once had a flood-damaged house on it.
According to a city staff memorandum to the City Council, Stark will be required to pay a price equal to the appraised value of the property plus the cost of the appraisal and closing costs. Some special steps will need to be taken if any of the property is in the 100-year flood plain.
Stark said he hoped to take possession of the property in December and have the restaurant open in June. He also hoped A&W might grant a new franchise for the restaurant.
The city staff memo states that Stark anticipates spending $278,000 on the renovation, including the cost of the property purchase. Stark has a signed letter of intent to lease the restaurant building to Gary and Sue Wesely, according to the city memo. The Weselys were among residents asking the City Council to seek proposals for the business before tearing it down.
Cities come back from disasters, Stark said on Monday, and he said people are reinvesting in and around the Ellis Boulevard NW area.
“There’s not a reason you can’t rebuild down in that area,” Stark said. “And I think it will be nice to have the A&W historically the way it used to be.”
The city memo states that Stark has completed four renovations and has five renovations and one new construction project under way.
Last month, the council approved a development agreement with Stark for two Czech Village buildings, at 1501 and 1507 C St. SW, which had been on the city demolition list.
Linda Seger, president of the Northwest Neighbors Neighborhood Association, on Monday said the association is firmly behind plans to rebuild homes and businesses in the neighborhood.
“We have been on board from the beginning with any project that would be able to rebuild or build a food-service business in that (the A&W) location,” Seger said. “… I know he (Stark) has it well in hand to move forward and bring a well-needed shot in the arm to Ellis Boulevard and the Northwest neighborhood.”