CUMBERLAND — Phase one of the Cumberland Gateway project received approval Wednesday by the Cumberland Planning Commission, laying the groundwork for a fast service restaurant and a retail structure at the proposed site.

Plans for the project’s opening phase — located on a 6.2-acre tract off exit 43D of Interstate 68 — includes a fast service restaurant with a drive-thru on Cecelia Street and a 4,250-square-foot retail shopping store on the corner of Cecelia and Park streets. Both businesses would be located on the north side of Cecelia Street between Cecelia and Emily streets.

The Planning Commission approved the plans at a special meeting held at City Hall on Wednesday afternoon. Dave Umling, planning commission member, said phase one utilizes two parcels, or roughly 1.2 acres, at the site.

The Cumberland Gateway project is ultimately expected to be a full plaza between Maryland Avenue and Park Street and Emily and Williams streets. Divided into four phases, the plaza, once complete, would also include a hotel, a sit-down restaurant, more shops and a convenience store.

The developer announced in August that the project would be a four-phase build-around project. About 12 homeowners have thus far refused to sell their properties, forcing the developer to perform a phased in-fill build.

Representatives from the Piedmont Design Group of Frederick were present at the meeting. Piedmont Design is employed by the project developer Ed Scott, of Kline Scott Visco Commercial Real Estate of Frederick. Bob Barrick of Piedmont said the name of the restaurant chain or the retailer to occupy the parcels has not been solidified. They also said a timeline for the start of construction was not been developed yet.

“We honestly would like to move forward with the development as quickly as practical given the review process,” said Barrick, “as quickly as we can obtain approvals for the development.”

The phase one design was approved by the commission pending the completion of additional steps typically required prior to construction including alley closures and additional engineering planning.

“This will put them one step closer to actually authorizing construction,” said Umling. Umling said a vote on the alley closures are likely to be next step.

The plans said the fast food restaurant would likely be constructed first following by the retail shopping structure.

The developer also recently announced another five properties at the plaza location are expected to be demolished by spring. The parcels for the phase one restaurant and retail stores have already been cleared of structures.

Follow staff writer Greg Larry on Twitter @GregLarryCTN.

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