Drive-thru Starbucks proposed for vacant lot on Erie Boulevard in Schenectady

Drive-thru Starbucks proposed for vacant lot on Erie Boulevard in Schenectady

SCHENECTADY – A drive-thru-only Starbucks on vacant land at 1100 Erie Blvd. has been proposed to city officials.

Empire Engineering PLLC’s site plan on behalf of Fabio Urbano, owner of Electric Erie Development of 310 Currybush Connection, cites the “exponential” growth of contactless food-service options during the coronavirus pandemic.

The item is on the Zoning Board of Appeals meeting agenda for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. 

Urbano proposes a 1,200-square-foot building with drive-thru lanes, parking, outdoor patio and landscaping on the .6 acre parcel in the downtown mixed-use zoning district.

The applicant seeks a variance – a form of relief from the strict application of land use and lot development standards within city zoning rules – from the ZBA.

The district allows for restaurant uses. However, drive-in only service facilities are not permitted.


Urbano did not return a message Tuesday. City Development Director Kristin Diotte could not be reached late Tuesday.

The proposed Starbucks would be north of the railroad bridge over Erie Boulevard, and is the last undeveloped parcel before the zoning district ends near the northern roundabout at the intersection of Erie Boulevard and Nott Street.

The plan calls for a single entrance from Green Street for proper turning and ample on-site space for vehicle queuing.

According to the site plan, the limited size of the parcel makes a reasonable return on investment impossible for warehouse, residential, institutional or government uses.

The need for commercial properties to include an option for drive-thru-only service has grown exponentially the last 12 months, the applicant said.

“The distancing of individuals and trends toward contactless and convenient points of sale has created a much greater need for this commercial development property to include a [drive-thru] service facility,” Empire Engineering stated in the application.

Drive-thru-only and other innovations in the fast-food industry have been trending, according to various media outlets.

Wendy’s CEO Todd Penegor has said the chain has developed prototypes for drive-thru-only restaurants.

In recent weeks, Taco Bell released a statement for plans of an elevated kitchen and gravity-defying food delivery system that features a proprietary lift system to pass food from the kitchen to four drive-thru lanes sitting below. It said it would break ground on the first of the new restaurants in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, and to be open to the public by next summer.

In addition to Starbucks and Taco Bell, chains such as KFC, Dunkin’, Panera Bread, McDonald’s, and Chic-fil-A closed their dining rooms during various lengths of time to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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