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updated: 9/11/2017 9:59 AM

Libertyville fighting McDonald's efforts to modernize retro building

Libertyville fighting McDonald's efforts to modernize retro building

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  • A proposal to refresh the look of this retro McDonald's at 1330 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Libertyville is drawing bad reviews from local leaders.

      A proposal to refresh the look of this retro McDonald's at 1330 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Libertyville is drawing bad reviews from local leaders.
    Mick Zawislak | Staff Photographer

  • The original McDonald's restaurant at 1330 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Libertyville was built in 1958 and remodeled several times before being demolished in 2002. It was replaced with a retro-looking version.

    The original McDonald's restaurant at 1330 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Libertyville was built in 1958 and remodeled several times before being demolished in 2002. It was replaced with a retro-looking version.
    Daily Herald file photo/2002

  • This is the McDonald's restaurant at 1330 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Libertyville as it looked in 2002.

    This is the McDonald's restaurant at 1330 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Libertyville as it looked in 2002.
    Daily Herald file photo/2002

 
 

A debate about a McDonald's restaurant in Libertyville pits the desire to modernize against local affection for nostalgia.

The fast-food giant wants to upgrade the appearance and energy efficiency of the restaurant at 1330 N. Milwaukee Ave., a reproduction of the original 1950s-era drive-in.

The iconic golden arches and free-standing sign would remain. But village staff members are resistant, and the advisory appearance review commission recommended against any other changes, saying altering the look would be inconsistent with the throwback design.

"We like the retro building," said John Spoden, community development director.

"We felt the design fits well with the community and the character and people like it," added Chris Sandine, associate planner.

McDonald's has appealed the recommendation and the matter will be aired before the village board at 8 p.m. Tuesday at village hall, 118 W. Cook Ave.

Exterior changes to commercial buildings are considered by the five-member appearance review commission, which voted 3-0 last month against the proposed new building facades, lighting and signage.

The current building fits Libertyville's character, Chairman John Robbins said then, also noting the historic nature of Libertyville and its downtown make changes hard to support.

McDonald's representatives said the company is modernizing all its buildings with updated technology and understands the village concerns. Submitted changes were toned-down from the original standard design, commissioners were told.

Built in 1958, the location is one of the oldest in the McDonald's system. In the early 2000s when it needed to be reconfigured to better handle drive through traffic, village officials pushed for a new reproduction of the original.

According to the latest plan, the style and shape of the building would remain the same but the tile wainscot around it would be replaced and the red and white color updated with "modern earth tone" colors.

All signs would be replaced, including the "wordmark" sign on the front of the building, which is the McDonald's name flanked by the Speedee cartoon mascot. Larger Speedee images beneath the arches also would be removed as part of the proposal.

Other requests are to replace existing neon with LED lighting and install new sidewalks and ramps. The proposal would address exterior maintenance, Americans with Disabilities Act compliance and energy efficiency issues, Jacob Lenson, area construction manager for McDonald's, wrote in the appeal.

The overall appearance of the building would be improved while "maintaining the key historic architectural elements" that exist now, he wrote.

"It is important to understand that the building is 15 years old," he added. "Many of the existing facade materials are no longer available and the existing lighting elements are extremely inefficient."

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