The groundbreaking of a new McDonald’s in Sugarmill Woods has been put on hold, allowing two giant oak trees on the property to stand a bit longer.
Crews on Oct. 1 were set to start clearing the property at the northwest corner of U.S. 19 and U.S. 98 for another fast-food restaurant.
But Wanda Boyd, with Prado Enterprises — owner of the planned restaurant — said Wednesday the project has been delayed but had no other information. It was supposed to open by Christmas.
Louise Rogers of Sugarmill Woods has been fighting to save the trees and said she is happy the oaks have a reprieve but is not sure that is the reason for the recent delay.
“I don’t know,” she said. “I’m hoping that they don’t come down.”
McDonald’s in August paid the county $10,500 in mitigation costs to take down 63 oak trees — including the two big ones — and two pines on property. The chain already has its permits to start building.
It’s not just the trees that are the problem, Rogers said. She thinks the location won’t accommodate customers because the parcel is not that big.
McDonald’s, she said, will be inundated because there are few eateries near that busy intersection and it is on a direct tourist route. And with the Suncoast Parkway expansion only a few miles east, traffic there should increase, she said.
“I don’t believe the property is large enough to handle the traffic,” Rogers said. “It’s a very small piece of property.”
The corner of U.S. 98 and U.S. 19 may see more fast-food restaurants in the future.
The Chronicle reported in July that Wendy’s has expressed interest in building at the southwest corner of U.S. 19 and U.S. 98. The chain has not yet submitted paperwork to the county for permits.
And representatives with the Publix-anchored Shoppes of Sugarmill Woods have said they want a new fast-food restaurant on an outparcel just south of the Walgreens.