Zoning variances for the proposed Truck Stop restaurant, a diner/food truck court concept planned for the corner of Central and Cooper that once housed Midtown Nursery, were granted by the Board of Adjustment on Wednesday afternoon.
Proposed by Chiwawa/Yolo/Tamp & Tap restaurateur Taylor Berger and attorney Michael Tauer, Truck Stop is a hybrid concept that combines a restaurant serving small plates, adult beverages, and desserts with parking space for a rotating cast of three food trucks. Diners place their order for any menu item at the restaurant or from the food trucks' menus at one counter so no one has to stand in line at a food truck. The trucks will stay on the lot for several hours at a time, and when they leave, other food trucks will take their place. The restaurant building's will be constructed using metal shipping containers in a creative design that will create a 35- to 40-foot metal tower on one end. And there will be a large outdoor seating area in the back of the restaurant.
The Board of Adjustment approved variances for accessory structures for the food truck court, the number of buildings per tract (an issue because the existing Clear Channel-owned billboard on the site is considered a separate building, and Truck Stop can't construct its building without the board's variance approval), and site development standards for the metal building since metal isn't allowed as the primary building material for new structures built in the area zoned by the Midtown Overlay.
Two residents in attendance spoke in opposition to the use of metal shipping containers for the restaurant. One man, who lived in Central Gardens, said the restaurant's tower "will ultimately become another billboard" if Truck Stop ever vacates the property and sells to another business. To ensure that couldn't happen, the board passed an amendment that no signage could be placed on the top of the tower.
Mary Baker, the president of the Idlewild Neighborhood Association and the former director of the Office of Planning and Development, asked the board to hold approval on the variance relating to the number of buildings per tract because she wanted more time for a real estate attorney to study the contract for the Clear Channel billboard located on one end of the property. Baker would like to see the billboard removed since it doesn't jibe with the rules of the city's Unified Development Code. But the board denied the request to hold approval of that variance.
After the meeting, Berger said he was very excited about winning the board's approval. But he said it will still be months before Truck Stop is open. Berger and Tauer will receive the property, for which they've signed a 10-year lease, from Loeb Properties in March or April. Then Loeb Properties will help remove two underground gas tanks that have been on the property since it was a gas station in the 1950s. From there, they'll have to check for soil contamination and do any clean-up work. Then construction can begin. Berger said he hopes Truck Stop can be open by the spring of 2015.