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Plans in place for new development at old Dairy Queen

Concept art by Negen and Associates The planned 1st Street Station, at the intersection of 1st Street South and Willmar Avenue Southeast, will have four units for tenants, including one with a drive-thru. The new development will replace the old Dairy Queen. 1 / 2
Erica Dischino / Tribune The lot that houses the vacant Dairy Queen at First Street South and Willmar Avenue Southeast will soon be replaced with a new retail development by Marcus Construction called 1st Street Station. The city of Willmar has issued a permit for demolition, and the building permit application has been submitted.2 / 2

WILLMAR — A new retail development called 1st Street Station will soon replace the empty Dairy Queen at the corner of 1st Street South and Willmar Avenue Southeast.

The Willmar Planning Commission and the Willmar City Council both approved plans for the project in August, and a city permit was issued Aug. 28 for demolition of the Dairy Queen building.

Marcus Construction plans to construct a four-unit commercial building in the site, with the northernmost unit having a drive-thru.

City Planner Sarah Anderson said Marcus Construction has applied for its building permit.

"As soon as that has been approved and paid for, they can start whenever," Anderson said.

There are currently no tenants secured for the building, Anderson said.

Due to how busy that street corner can be, as part of its approval the Planning Commission required a "right-in, right-out only" access on the Willmar Avenue side of the property, which means there will be no left-hand turns allowed for traffic either entering or exiting the property on Willmar Avenue.

It is hoped this will reduce traffic conflicts that are usually caused by drivers trying to turn left on the Willmar Avenue side, according to the Planning Commission documents. The idea of the right-in, right-out access came from the city engineer.

Marcus Construction also needed a variance for the parking setback on the north and west sides of the property. The Board of Zoning Appeals approved the variance on Aug. 7.

Bruce Peterson, city planning and development services director, said at the Aug. 20 City Council meeting that such a variance is not uncommon for the 1st Street South commercial corridor.

"I think it is another attractive development on First Street," Anderson said.