A two-tenant building anchored by Panera Bread is planned for 7310 E. Riverside Blvd. in Loves Park. (Rending via city of Loves Park ZBA packet)
By Kevin Haas
Rock River Current
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LOVES PARK — A two-tenant building anchored by Panera Bread is planned for East Riverside Boulevard, bringing new business to the last unclaimed frontage road plot between Perryville Road and the interchange on the Loves Park side of the road.

Ohio-based CA Commercial Development plans to build the restaurant and retail space at 7310 E. Riverside Blvd., which is just west of the future dual-business Buona Beef and The Original Rainbow Cone. It would feature a nearly 2,500-square-foot Panera and 3,500-square-foot commercial space to another business yet to be determined.

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That stretch of Riverside Boulevard is in the city of Loves Park on the north side and Rockford on the south side. Multiple restaurants have opened in that stretch over the last three years, filling nearly every available parcel on the north side of the road. There is undeveloped land on the south side of the street.

“That pretty much takes care of all of the commercial property fronting Riverside,” said Nathan Bruck, Loves Park’s planning and economic development manager. “We’ve got some properties to the north, but not right on Riverside.”

CA Commercial Development plans to build a two-tenant business anchored by Panera Bread on this land along Riverside Boulevard in Loves Park. It’s shown on Tuesday, May 14, 2024. (Photo by Kevin Haas/Rock River Current)

Also under construction on that stretch is Mister Car Wash, 7422 E. Riverside Boulevard, and Buona Beef and The Original Rainbow Cone. Starbucks and Chiptole were added in 2021 and Tom & Jerry’s opened in March 2023. Plans were approved in 2022 for Arby’s to build at 7270 E. Riverside Blvd., between Starbucks and Sherwin-Williams, once its lease is up at its current spot on Perryville Road. An extended stay WoodSpring Suites is also being built on Galleria Drive just north of Riverside.

“It’s great that we filled it up, it’s just too bad that there wasn’t a lot more,” Mayor Greg Jury said. “Now my challenge to our staff is: OK, let’s figure out where else we can get them to come in. We’re not going to stop. … Riverside is full, now we’ve got to work on other locations.”

There is also land undeveloped east of the interchange, and east of Costco, which opened in August 2019. That stretch east from the interstate includes the home of Mercyhealth Sportscore Two, the Indoor Sports Center and Lino’s carryout restaurant.

“I’ll give credit to the team we have at the city of Loves Park, working with businesses and making sure they realize they’re important to our community,” Jury said of the recent developments.

Plans for the Panera Bread development go to the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals on Wednesday night. If approved, it would head to the City Council’s Community Development Committee and then the full council on June 3. Construction could start once that approval is given, although a timeline has not been announced.

This article is by Kevin Haas. Email him at khaas@rockrivercurrent.com or follow him on X at @KevinMHaas or Instagram @thekevinhaas and Threads @thekevinhaas

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