A McDonald's restaurant that had received preliminary approval from the District government to open along Connecticut Avenue near Dupont Circle will not be built.
A McDonald's spokesman said Monday the firm was dropping plans for the fast-food shop at 1643 Connecticut Ave. NW because a recent financial analysis had shown the restaurant would not be profitable.
A neighborhood citizens group, called the Committee to Stop McDonald's, had collected 2,000 names on a petition expressing opposition to the proposed restaurant in the Dupont Circle historic district. The local Advisory Neighborhood Commission had written to McDonald's officials at their headquarters in Oak Brook, Ill., also objecting to the plans.
Nine years ago, a group of Dupont Circle citizens successfully prevented another fast-food restaurant from locating in the community.
However, McDonald's spokesman Marvin Whaley, director of operations for the Washington area, said the community opposition was not a factor in the decision to drop the plans for the new restaurant.
"Our decision to drop out of a place is not made because of the concerns that (the residents) are expressing," Whaley said. "We feel that we can work with those groups and convince them we can be a good member of the community. We hadn't even begun to work with those groups," he added.
John Immer, a management consultant and Dupont Circle resident who had organized the anti-McDonald's committee, said, "This is exceedingly good news."
McDonald's decision to withdraw came less two months after the District's Joint Committee on Landmarks, the watchdog agency for developments in historic areas, approved the design for the proposed restaurant.
The company had received permission to tear down a four-story building at the rear of the property and renovate a two-story building in the front. The exterior of the building would have remained unchanged, Whaley said.
The residents' current objections to McDonald's echo those heard nine years ago when Gino's tried to locate a fast-food shop along Connecticut Avenue in the same neighborhood. Opponents complain fast-food restaurants would generate litter and draw "undesirable" outsiders to the neighborhood--complaints that McDonald's officials say are unfounded.
Some opponents said they also were protesting the proposed McDonald's because it would displace two popular community businesses, Crown Liquors, which has been owned and operated by the Gertz family for 45 years, and Joy of Motion, a dance studio. These businesses occupy the space McDonald's had wanted.
In 1974, the Ad Hoc Committee to Prevent Ginocide took busloads of residents to attend a Gino's stockholders meeting in suburban Philadelphia. Gino's finally withdrew its plans to build at Connecticut Avenue and R streets in a building formerly occupied by the popular Crystal City restaurant.
Most of the opponents' objections to a McDonald's are groundless, Whaley said. The company picks up litter regularly and hires security guards to prevent the restaurant from becoming hangouts for undesirables, he said.
"Our feeling is, we are part of the community," Whaley said. "We come in on a per store basis to hire local people and participate in local activities," he said.
But Paul Immer, 23, who was working with his father to defeat the McDonald's plans, disagreed. "It would really ruin the character of the neighborhood. We have a lot of neat little restaurants here. . . . One of the unique things about our area is that we don't have any fast-food restaurants," he said.