Development on former airport site to bring McDonald’s, Taco Bell and retail
By Ian Haupt
Big Macs and Crunchwrap Supremes will soon be readily available to Blaine residents, as development plans for the former airport site show McDonald’s and Taco Bell coming to town.
White-Leasure Development Company has applied for planning permission to begin development of the five-acre parcel at the southeast corner of Truck Road and H Street which it purchased from the city in September 2019. The parcel will be divided into five different lots, two of which McDonald’s and Taco Bell have spoken of. White-Leasure vice president of development operations Ken Lenz said the other three lots are still for sale.
He said his goal was to open businesses by the end of the year.
“McDonald’s and Taco Bell are eager to get started,” he said. “They want to be open before November.”
But White-Leasure is awaiting city permit approval before its contractor can begin construction. Lenz said he hopes they can start by mid-February.
White-Leasure is a general contractor and real estate services company based in Boise, Idaho. It specializes in shopping malls, hotels and downtown mixed-use redevelopment projects, according to its website.
In the fall of 2019, White-Leasure purchased the north end of the remaining Gateway parcel, formerly the Blaine Municipal Airport site, while Family Care Network (FCN) signed for the other property of 2, 5 acres at the south end of the block. The property sale agreements marked the end of an era for the former airport site.
FCN just completed the sale in June 2021 for $337,590 after delaying negotiations and focusing resources on its other facilities during the pandemic. FCN has 15 other medical facilities in Whatcom and Skagit counties. While the development process has restarted, the timeline is still in question. The FCN remains focused on the pandemic but is moving slowly with plans to meet the city’s need for a medical provider.
At the same time, White-Leasure is accelerating its development.
The project’s binding general site plan, which includes a public hearing, has been approved. The company is awaiting approval of its specific binding site plan and land disturbance plan, applications for which were deemed complete on December 23, 2021 and January 14.
The city’s community planner, Stacy Clauson, said applications are currently being reviewed and may require revisions before construction begins. The review process typically takes 90-120 days.
According to plans submitted to the city’s planning department, McDonald’s will take up 4,600 square feet of land and Taco Bell will take 2,300 square feet. The other three lots are expected to be 7,225, 8,400 and 5,300 square feet. Traffic will enter the commercial space through Grant Avenue.
Plans currently list O’Reilly Auto Parts on the 7,225-square-foot lot, but Lenz said they pulled out of the space. Lots 2, 4 and 5 of the plans remain open and for sale.
Blaine Town Manager Michael Jones said it’s always good to have more businesses in Blaine because they create jobs and provide services to the community. The businesses also help fund the city’s tax base, he said, which will help fund the
As for being open by the end of the year, he said it was in the backyard of White-Leasure. “But opening it in about 11 months seems like an achievable goal,” he said.