A couple of years ago, when Scotia’s planning board kept sending the developer of a proposed Rite Aid back to the drawing board, insisting on a design that would fit into a village rather than a suburban shopping strip, we applauded it. Rite Aid eventually gave up and went away — no big loss, unless you find drive-through windows, 40-plus-space parking lots, and large, sterile buildings attractive. It’s likely that most Scotia residents do not, or they wouldn’t be living in that human-scale, walkable place.
And now it appears more people may soon be living there. At the same site as the project that wasn’t, a developer has proposed new apartments. Although the exact design, prices, etc., haven’t been determined yet, the planning board likes the idea, and early discussions indicate the developer is willing to give it what it wants in terms of a design that fits with the village’s character.
The plan seems OK — certainly better than the Rite Aid. But it would still require the demolition of the same two buildings, Scotia Diner and Attanasio’s Restaurant, as well as three houses. Although both buildings are in pretty bad shape (and Attanasio’s is no longer used as a restaurant), they are right along Mohawk Avenue, part of the fabric of the street, and could be renovated. That would be the ideal.
In fact, there is a better place for the apartments: that old eyesore of a McDonald’s, which has sat boarded up and deteriorating since 2005, when the company closed it because it wasn’t doing enough business. The county and Metroplex have been trying for years to get McDonald’s to demolish the building and clean the site, which is contaminated by oil, and this week they announced that the company has agreed to do that.
The village is reportedly considering the site for a new municipal center, including offices, police and fire station. But village residents a few years ago voted down a similar plan largely due to cost, and everyone is in even less of a spending mood now.
The county should try to interest the developer in the McDonald’s site, which is just a couple of doors from the other site — still walkable to Collins Park, the movie theater, etc. And, potentially, to Scotia Diner and Attanasio’s, which could get a new lease on life from all those people living so close by.