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Dunkin' Donuts Slated for Coralville Strip

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CORALVILLE, Iowa - Coralville strip commuters with a weakness for sweet confections and steaming coffee be warned a Dunkin' Donuts could soon be tempting you on your way to work.

The former site of the Sonic restaurant at 604 Second St. is slated to become a Dunkin' Donuts, adding to the largest doughnut shop chain's footprint in 2011, the Canton, Mass.-based company announced an agreement to open 12 new locations in Cedar Rapids.

Coralville Building and Zoning Official Jim Kessler said the property's new owner hasn't given details on when site development might begin and when the eatery could open. But, Kessler said, the company submitted a site development plan titled, "Dunkin' Donuts Remodel."

"They sent something to me to see if I had any objections to the new site layout," Kessler said.

The Sonic that previously occupied the space opened more than four years ago and was closed about a year ago along with Sonic locations in Cedar Rapids and Waterloo. Kessler said the previous owners removed the canopy and all its signs in April, and the property was purchased by Reif Oil Co., based in Burlington.

Officials with Reif did not return a call from The Gazette on Monday. But documents submitted to the city of Coralville show plans to add a drive-through window and additional parking. According to the site plan, the total existing area on the property is 60,058 square feet, including 1,950 square feet for the proposed building.

Once the owners are ready to start construction, they'll have to file a revised site plan with the city and obtain a building permit.

"I don't believe the present owner has done anything with the site at this point," Kessler said.

The city of Coralville, however, is excited by the prospect of Dunkin' Donuts filling that space. Kessler said it's a perfect business for that location, and it will be nice to fill the empty storefront.

"We are always eager to have property redeveloped or have property put back on the economic rolls," he said. "We don't like to see empty buildings."

There are no other doughnut-dedicated eateries in Coralville, Kessler said, and the location makes this prospective Dunkin' Donuts ideal for commuters who want to zip in and out without cutting through traffic.

"We certainly think it could be very successful," he said.

Nancy Quellhorst, president of the Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce, said the space is an important one for the area, and she's excited by the prospect that it might soon be filled.

"That is a really critical part of the gateway into Coralville," she said.

And although community leaders are eager to have a business operating in that space again, Mark Nolte, interim president of the Iowa City Area Development group, said he thinks the property turned relatively quickly.

"I think it just shows that this area's economy is so strong that empty buildings don't sit for very long," he said.

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