Chick-fil-A’s takeover of Ponce de Leon Avenue is officially off and squawking.

Crews have demolished a Texaco gas station and convenience mart and begun ground preparations to construct a drive-thru Chick-fil-A restaurant in a part of Atlanta that prides itself on becoming more walkable, a couple of blocks west of the BeltLine.

Chick-fil-A has been hungry to stake an outpost along Ponce, east of Midtown, for several years. The demolition work at 689 Boulevard NE in Old Fourth Ward is the most visible evidence to date that those ambitions are being realized.

Where the Chick-fil-A property meets Ponce—and bike lanes the BeltLine expects to upgrade soon as part of corridor improvements for non-drivers. Josh Green/Urbanize Atlanta

Just four blocks away on Ponce, Chick-fil-A is still cooking plans to build a second new eatery, replacing a longstanding bar as part of an apparent sea change in established, often beloved Ponce businesses making way for new development.

A zoning application in May 2020 first hinted that Chick-fil-A planned to rezone two parcels and replace the Texaco where Ponce meets Boulevard.

Hardly Champs-Élysées today, the site is neighbored by a drive-thru Popeyes, while the three corners across the street have a drive-thru Dunkin’, a drive-thru bank, and drive-to Shell gas station, respectively.

Aerial of the corner where Chick-fil-A replaced a Texaco gas station and convenience mart. City of Atlanta Planning Department

Nonetheless, the Chick-fil-A is being built within the BeltLine Overlay District—a zoning measure meant to encourage inclusive development that’s friendly to both pedestrians and mass transit, with more greenspace than asphalt. When presented with the initial restaurant proposal in 2020, both NPU-M in Old Fourth Ward and NPU-E in Midtown all but told Chick-fil-A reps to go back to the drawing board.

“We did not support the design [because] it prioritized vehicle access and service without consideration for being in a dense, urban, walkable community,” as the Midtown Neighbors Association summarized. 

Initial designs submitted by Chick-fil-A reps to neighborhood groups in spring 2020. Circa-May 2020 designs by Chick-fil-A, via Midtown Neighbors Association

Other concerns involved additional traffic, the general suburban-style layout of the proposal, and the fact that a large parking lot would consume such a prominent intown corner.

Chick-fil-A later returned with an altered, brick design that pushed the drive-thru area to the back of the property—instead of wrapping the main restaurant building—and added a walk-up window for taking orders from people not in cars. Those plans still drew criticism from neighborhood groups and development arbiters with the Atlanta Zoning Review Board, but Chick-fil-A nonetheless received city approval to move forward.

West facade on Ponce de Leon Avenue, toward Midtown, according to revised Chick-fil-A plans. Designs by Chick-fil-A, via Midtown Neighbors Association

We’ve asked Chick-fil-A media reps for an update on when the Boulevard restaurant might open—and when construction might move forward at the longtime Dugan’s building (777 Ponce de Leon Avenue) where a second Chick-fil-A is still planned soon, despite earlier opposition from Poncey-Highland neighborhood leadership.

Chick-fil-A officials haven’t responded, but we’ll post any additional details that come.  

In the meantime, have a closer look at the current and future situations where Boulevard meets Ponce in the gallery above.  

Neighborhood to Chick-fil-A: Go back to drawing board (Urbanize Atlanta)