Sitting on the desk of the Lee Planning Board is a proposal to develop the former Friendly’s on Housatonic street into a stand-alone Starbucks according to an article in The Berkshire Eagle.  The Planning Board was presented a proposal by the Charles River Realty Group earlier this week to renovate the former Friendly’s that shut down operation last October. The realty group will be back in front of the Lee board on February 8th to seek a special permit for the addition of a drive-up window according to the article.

If approved the Starbucks would certainly give Dunkin’ some stiff competition as it would be a Munchkin throw away from the Dunkin’ located almost directly across the street.  So close to the connector to the Mass Pike, that stretch heavily traveled area has been undergoing a resurgence with the opening of the Cana Provisions dispensary and the recently renovated McDonalds.

The Starbucks plan includes reducing parking spaces on the property from 54 to 37 to allow for better traffic flow around the building to the drive-up window proposed for the rear of the building. This flow would allow for an estimated 13 vehicles to wait in the drive-up line without causing issues to traffic on the busy Housatonic Street.  Additional plans are also in the works to reduce the impact of the new business on neighbors.  Currently there is no timetable for board approval or construction at this time.

On a historic note, Friendly’s was launched by founders S. Prestley and brother Curtis Prestley from East Springfield in 1935.  Their headquarters was later developed in Wilbraham.  The company has changed hands a number of times since the Prestley’s sold the company to the Hershey Food Corporation in 1979.   Friendly’s has gone through a number of bankruptcies, the most recent was a Chapter 11 filing last November.

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