Second McDonald's slated for Heights

2014-03-21T00:30:00Z 2014-03-21T16:38:04Z Second McDonald's slated for HeightsBy JAN FALSTAD jfalstad@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

After lengthy negotiations between two jumbo corporations, four acres next to the Walgreens at Wicks Lane and Main Street in the Heights are destined to house a McDonald’s restaurant soon.

Developer and owner Pat Newbury said the two corporations talked for several years before reaching a deal for the land.

“It took some time, but it’s a big piece of property,” he said. “We can’t use it all, so McDonald’s will take two acres and spin off the rest to someone else.”

The restaurant site is adjacent to Walgreens. Bids will go out soon and work could begin as early as May 1. Construction should take three months, Newbury said.

The new location will increase the number of McDonald’s restaurants in Billings to eight. There also are McDonald’s in Lockwood and Laurel.

The new Heights McDonald’s will look like the one recently remodeled on Main Street near MetraPark, but with a different interior design and no playground.

When the Heights store is completed, Newbury will own six regional McDonald’s. His two sons, John and Chris Newbury, own six and the family plans on building two more somewhere in Billings.

Last year, the family closed two smaller McDonald’s located inside the two Billings Wal-Marts. Subway leased that retail space.

Meanwhile, it looks like another construction project is underway on Main Street near the Eagles Club.

Last July, the city of Billings approved plans by Billings developer Jerry T. Ray to build six residential units on the two-acre site.

“Five of the buildings are triplexes and one building is a duplex with an ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) unit in it,” said planner Dave Green.

But Ray said he faces so many building restrictions, that he’s walking away from what he called Main Street Condos.

“I’m not going to pick the plans up. I’m going to change it,” he said.

Before Ray changed his mind, the Montana Department of Transportation looked at the traffic on that part of U.S. Highway 87 that handles an average of 19,840 vehicles per day. A median also divides Main Street along that section.

The department denied Ray full access to Main Street and is allowing only right turns coming in and out of his property.

“Speed, traffic, proximity to Wicks Lane and sight distance coming from Roundup is not the greatest,” said DOT district administrator Stefan Streeter of Billings. “So, in order to provide safety to the traveling public, that approach could not be granted as full access.”

After bagging the idea of building heavy density apartments on Main Street, Ray said he hasn’t decided what to do with the land, but said it is for sale.

The construction company on the property isn’t doing site work, Ray said, but is just parking its equipment. Ray considered building 12 duplex units, but concluded that Billings developers are building too many rental properties now, probably because of favorable financing.

“I think we’re overbuilt. I just got rid of 40 units awhile back and am damn glad to get away from them,” he said.

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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