Does a McDonald's fast-food restaurant belong on Fourth Avenue at the corner of Warren Street? That was the question posed to neighbors Friday afternoon in response to recent reports of crime and neglect at the site of the dilapidated former KFC, which was purchased last fall by the home of the golden arches.
"The rat pit?" Boerum Hill resident Mike Westen gasped, referring to the languishing lot. "That's what they're going to put there? I assumed they were going to put up another condo and frankly I think that would be better. I am not in support of building a McDonald's there at all."
Westen continued: "I wasn't a fan of the KFC, when it existed. I don't eat fast food. Why would you when there are so many better options to choose from in the neighborhood?"
One reason that a Park Slope resident offered was for the convenience factor that appeals to most McDonald's customers.
"Will it be open 24 hours?" asked Jeremy Hunt, a bartender at Pacific Standard on Fourth Avenue and St. Marks Place. "Because then it could get kind of sloppy. I might be going in there all the time."
His boss, Jonathan Stan, echoed that sentiment.
"If I ever woke up before 10:30 a.m., I would run there immediately and get the breakfast," Stan said, eyes sparkling. "Because I can't resist the McDonald's breakfast."
In fact, Stan felt that the proximity of chicken nuggets and super-sized fries would only help his bar.
"As a business owner located here, if someone wants to go and grab some food there then bring it back, and it keeps them in the seats, then so be it," he said.
But because he lives above Pacific Standard, Stan did acknowledge that as long as the construction on the new McDonald's remained delayed, the lot would attract crime.
"I haven't personally witnessed anything happening there," he said. "But I've seen the aftermath. People have broken in there, ripped things off the walls and stolen stuff. But to be honest, that lot is the least of all my concerns of the places around here. The needle exchange next door is more my concern. There's always a big group of junkies hanging out and screaming at each other and scaring customers away."
But another local business owner, Marcelo Torchio of Il Vino Torchio two doors down from Pacific Standard, was strongly opposed to McDonald's joining the block.
"I'm not happy about it at all, no," said Torchio. "I don't like chains. I wish they would put a better kind of restaurant there."
A President Street resident, Torchio went on to say that a McDonald's doesn't jibe with the fabric of the area. "This is Brooklyn, y'know?" he said. "While I support new businesses coming in to the area, I think it should be a smaller, independent business."
When it was suggested that the exterior of the chain restaurant could be given certain features, such as muted colors and landscaping to make it more aesthetically in sync with the surrounding architecture, Torchio was unimpressed.
"It will still be a McDonald's no matter what it looks like," he said. "Also, they are going to be building it right across the street from a new school that's being constructed. So that's another reason that I don't like it. Because it will lure the kids to eat that kind of food."
Upon considering that possibility, Mike Westen concurred with Torchio: "Across from a school? I hate it even more now."