Arby’s fans…your dream is coming true in Southwest Michigan. Demolition crews have been moving like a chunk of roast beef through a slicing device today as site preparation gets underway for the new Arby’s Restaurant at the corner of M-139 and Napier in Benton Charter Township.
Just days after the deal officially closed on the purchase of the former Sanitary Cleaners and the abandoned Napier Clinicare emergency walk-in clinic, wrecking crews have been churning those two buildings into piles of rubble that will be cleared aside to make way for the gleaming new Arby’s Restaurant, targeted for opening by this fall at that high traffic corner across from the Fairplain Plaza.
The Visser Brothers General Contractor trailer has also been strategically placed just off the corner as construction crews will take over when the site is cleared and ready to go where they will erect a nearly 3,000 square foot restaurant and drive thru service, with parking for some 35 vehicles on site.
Benton Township Planners gave the green light in the final week of February to Browning Properties II, LLC of Brentwood, Tennessee, for a site plan submitted to them for development of the new, 2,800 square foot, Arby’s Restaurant. It’s literally a block away from the long time former site of Arby’s on the other side of Napier Avenue west of the project site approved in the Special Planning Commission Meeting at Benton Charter Township Hall on February 25th.
The Township Planning Commission unanimously approved the site plan request to develop an Arby’s at the southwest corner of Napier and M-139 subject at that time to County Road Commission and Michigan Department of Transportation approvals of the proposed curb cuts on Napier Avenue and M-139 as well as the County Drain Commission’s approval of detention ponds on the site. All of those approvals were provided as the plans progressed.
The project will be under the guidance of Development Management Group of Nashville, Tennessee. When the Browning Properties II, LLC representative was asked by the Planning Commission in February when they expected the Arby’s to open, he replied, “By September 2019 provided all approvals are reached to accommodate closing on the properties in a timely manner.”
The full Benton Township Board of Trustees put their stamp of approval on the project shortly after planners turned it over to them with a recommendation for approval. Their vote was unanimous on Tuesday, March 5th, paving the way for the deal to be completed.
Arby’s was a long time presence in both St. Joseph and Benton Harbor with restaurants on both Napier Avenue in Benton Harbor, across from what is now Slumberland Furniture and in the space along Niles Avenue which is now home to Dairy Queen Chill n Grill in St. Joseph.
There are all sorts of theories as to why those franchise operations left the community, but seemingly ever since they left the hue and cry has been growing with every passing year in search of their return.
Arby’s fans in the region have been left to make the trek to South Haven or Niles to find the nearest Arby’s, but now the beckoning call, “We Have the Meats,” is resounding in the local neighborhood once again with plans to open by fall. Stay tuned.