Yo quiero Taco Bell? More like, “No quiero Taco Bell,” at least in Oak Park, anyway, as Ampler Development has withdrawn its application to build the controversial Taco Bell planned for 6000 to 6020 Roosevelt Rd.
The news that Ampler Development will not follow through with the application will likely delight residents near Roosevelt Road, who were widely against having a drive-thru Taco Bell near their homes from the start.
In the project’s first meeting with the Oak Park Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) on Jan. 8, neighbors raised concerns over the Taco Bell’s late-night hours of operation and proximity to many liquor establishments, as well as its potential to cause more traffic in the area.
The fast food eatery did have a few supporters in the community, such as Jim Kelly, who called that stretch of Roosevelt Road “blighted.”
“It’s time for some project to ignite the possibility of further development along that stretch and along that blighted intersection,” Kelly told ZBA members during the January meeting.
Ampler returned to the ZBA March 4, where members agreed to delay ruling until April 1 on the special use permit needed to build and operate a drive-thru window and the project’s other requested zoning variances. The developer requested the delay to obtain more traffic information.
Due to the onslaught of COVID-19, which began in earnest in the state of Illinois mid-March, the April 1 meeting was canceled, and the project remained in limbo until Ampler withdrew the application Nov. 3.
Tammie Grossman, Oak Park’s development customer services manager, told Wednesday Journal last June that Ampler had not given up on the Taco Bell franchise.
“They’re still wanting to move forward,” said Grossman.
What caused the development company’s change of heart remains unclear at the moment.
Ampler gave the village of Oak Park no reasoning as to why they elected not to proceed with the project, according to Grossman. Nor were they required to.
“They do not need to provide a reason,” Grossman told Wednesday Journal.
This is the second failed attempt to bring a Taco Bell restaurant to Oak Park. In 2017, Taco Bell franchisee Bell American Group LLC had its sights set on building a location at the corner of Madison Street and Lyman Avenue but withdrew their application after the ZBA unanimously rejected it.
An apartment complex is now nearing completion on that site.
Ampler is the same company behind the planned drive-thru Taco Bell in Forest Park at 161 Harlem Ave. Forest Park’s village board gave Ampler its approval to build the Mexican-inspired fast food joint last August.
Wednesday Journal has reached out to representatives at Ampler Development for comment.