The city of Streetsboro may have a new Volkswagen dealership, if all goes according to plan, by October, said Bernie Moreno, president of The Collection Auto Group.
The new dealership, which would be located along Route 14 in front of Shady Lake Apartments and next to Fifth-Third Bank, would encompass 7 acres and include a 23,000-square-foot building, he added.
Moreno said the auto group paid about $1.4 million for the property and plans to invest about $7 million in the facility.
While there would be parking for 400 vehicles, including customer parking, a lot for the service department and new cars, Moreno said he believes he will carry an inventory of around 250 vehicles.
Mayor Glenn Broska said he's excited to have another car dealership, which would act as a "destination" for car shoppers across the region.
"People would be coming here to go to this dealership," he said. "They'll eat in our restaurants and buy gas. They'll spend money here in the city. There are a lot benefits to having it."
Moreno said more approvals by the city are necessary for the plan to become a reality.
The new dealership would replace a temporary location in Hudson.
"When we first went to Hudson, they were great; they were phenomenal to work with," he said. "We told them all along Volkswagen's preference was to be in Streetsboro."
Moreno said "customer convenience" and an accessible highway system were factors in the decision to locate in Streetsboro.
Once the dealership opens, he said he believes it will employ 35 to 40 full-time employees.
Moreno said the dealership will be high-tech, with sales representatives equipped with iPads focusing on making car buying experience "fun."
"If you pretty much know what car you want, you can get in and out in an hour," he said, explaining there is less haggling over price, financing and trade-in value than there used to be since most customers come knowing what a fair price would be for the car they want.
"Buying a new car should be fun," he said. "So much of what a client does is done online before they enter the dealership."
City approvals pending
Before the project can get off the ground, Geis Co., which plans to build the facility, needs to obtain permission from the city to build on a lot that is part of a larger "integrated development," said Planning Director John Cieszkowski.
When Shady Lake Apartments was built, the entire area along Route 14 was envisioned as a single development, incorporating both commercial and residential uses. The residential portion was finished, but the commercial section was not, said Cieszkowski.
So City Council needs to decide whether to grant Geis Co. permission to build the facility and amend the integrated development plan for the entire area, which includes Fifth-Third Bank, the frontage on Route 14 and the apartments.
"The way the commercial-residential district is, there's no way for a single applicant to buy a singular piece of property in the CR district and develop a use," Cieszkowski explained.
City Council is considering whether to grant that permission in this case, along with a variety of text changes to the commercial-residential section of the zoning code.
Council will also consider an amendment to the integrated business plan, he added.
Geis and The Collection Auto Group have cleared the first hurdle -- the Streetsboro Planning & Zoning Commission agreed late last year that a new car dealership is similar use to the existing permitted uses in a commercial-residential area, said Cieszkowski.
Assuming those changes are approved, Geis Co. would then go through the site plan approval process, he said.
A public hearing is set for 7 p.m. March 24 at City Hall, 9184 Route 43, regarding the zoning text change related to the project to help allow individual lots to be developed within the integrated development.
FB: The Gateway News/Bob Gaetjens