Reporter Jackie Majerus wrote this story:
The Dunkin' Donuts and McDonalds restaurants on the former downtown mall site may both end up on the north end of the property, where Dunkin' Donuts is now, a development official said.
Frank Johnson, chairman of the Bristol Downtown Development Corp., said all the parties involved in both restaurants are interested in reconfiguring their businesses.
"Both McDonalds and Dunkin' Donuts have been under pressure from their corporations to remodel their stores," said Johnson, but he said the operators have been hesitant, wanting to first find out what happens with downtown.
The BDDC has oversight of the now-vacant, 17-acre former mall site, and city councilors recently decided that the non-profit board should also do the negotiating with Dunkin' Donuts and McDonalds.
Johnson said the BDDC would like to work with Dunkin' Donuts, but must work with McDonalds.
"McDonalds, right now, sits plunk in the middle of the 17 acres and owns its own land," said Johnson.
Johnson said that while the popular grocery store Discount Food Outlet is also on that end of the former mall site, he believes it would be possible to fit the McDonalds in between the Dunkin' Donuts and the DFO.
BDDC board members decided to invite representatives from both McDonalds and Dunkin' Donuts to an upcoming meeting to discuss possible plans to "relocate or co-locate" in the Dunkin' Donuts end of the parcel, which is at the corner of Center Street and North Main Street.
"I think they should come in," said BDDC board member John Lodovico.
Another board member, Dick Kallenbach, suggested the BDDC skirt Freedom of Information laws by having representatives from the BDDC and the restaurants meet behind closed doors.
Kallenbach said if they did that, it wouldn't be "a legal meeting, per se, under FOI."
But David Sheridan, the BDDC's attorney, said appointing people to meet would constitute a sub-committee, which would be subject to FOI laws because they would be conducting board business.
"FOI is bad enough, in my opinion," said Kallenbach.
Johnson said they should just invite McDonald's and Dunkin' Donuts to the meeting and see if they want to come, and other board members agreed.
"They know what they want to do," said Dick Harrall, executive director of the BDDC, about the restaurant operators.
It's important to work with them, Johnson said, but he said it would be helpful to get the McDonalds out of the way, clearing the large end of the parcel for future development."You certainly don't want to build your development around Dunkin' Donuts and McDonalds," Johnson said.
Negotiations will likely involve many parties, according to Johnson, because the Dunkin' Donuts representatives will include the land owner, the franchise owner and the corporation and the McDonalds will involve the local operator and the corporation.
"They are both long overdue for an upgrade," said Johnson.
Board members said they understood why the restaurants want to upgrade, but also why they might be holding back.
"We're not moving as fast as we'd like to move," said Lodovico.
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