The McDonald's restaurant at 3051 E. Washington Ave. wants to move down the street, because the pedestrian bridge that stretches across the road is hurting business.
"Basically, the construction of the bridge and the road construction have dropped the volume considerably at that location," says Mike Mangin, vice president of Missoula Mac, which owns 42 McDonald's restaurants, including this one. "The entire site is completely hidden. You don't even know it's there until you're in front of it, and then you can't get back to it."
And so the restaurant wants to relocate to the parking lot in front of Madison East Shopping Center, in the 2800 block.
But the proposed move has neighbors upset. Area Ald. Larry Palm says residents "bent over backwards" to approve the McDonald's reconstruction two years ago at the current site, only to have the restaurant change its plans.
"A lot of people are like, 'What the heck's happening? What does this all mean?'" he says. "It looks like a project being rammed down our throats."
Dan Melton, president of the Schenk-Atwood-Starkweather-Yahara Neighborhood Association, says some residents see McDonald's as not quite fitting in.
"A lot of neighbors here wouldn't dream of going to a McDonald's," he says. "I'm 61 years old, and I haven't been to one since high school. We get our food from [Willy Street Food Coop] and Jenifer Street Market. But that's not how everyone lives."
On the plus side, Melton thinks there's potential for the old McDonald's site, possibly with urban agriculture or a job-training center.
But, he adds, "Civilization isn't going to rise or fall with any of this."