Albany to build Auto Row for car dealers - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Albany to build Auto Row for car dealers

May 16, 2003

Albany --For years Albany has worked to create a beautified gateway to the city for people driving in from the East. Friday it was announced that about a half mile of East Ogelthorpe Boulevard will be developed into Auto Row, where most of the car dealerships in town will build new showrooms, next door to one another.

This vacant lot on East Ogelthorpe by next year will be home to a new 40-thousand square foot car showroom for Carl Gregory Chrysler Jeep. The four million dollar upgrade of his dealership is expected to create 40 new jobs. Carl Gregory's dealership will be at the center of the new Albany Auto Row. Gregory said "Like in this area not only will you have our brands, but you will have most of the other brands here as well. And it will be a satisfactory shopping experience rather than having to go to all different areas to shop."

The city of Albany is spending 5 point 2 million dollars of tax money to develop the East Albany Gateway. 4 million dollars will set up Auto Row, with the dealerships spending another 15 million dollars to develop their new business sites. Mayor Tommy Coleman said "We wanted to create an environment in our community to make sure these businesses can grow and prosper. Make additional contributions, be all that they can be."

8 car dealerships will build or improve their businesses in the half mile section of East Ogelthorpe between Radium Springs and Cason Street. Hentschel Motors will move his Mercedes dealership to the current Carl Gregory property, building a new one and a million dollar facility by the summer of 2004. Hentschel said "It was hard to come about, especially when people try to pull you out of Albany to another area."

Edwards Motors will build a 2 and a half million dollar, 10-thousand square foot Cadillac dealership on Auto Row. Billy Edwards said "Feel like it will be good for Albany, good for bringing traffic from outside of Albany, making it a big drive in market."

 The 8 auto dealerships sell around 72 million dollars of cars each year, which generates about 5 million dollars in sales tax. They hope the Auto Row will increase sales, and create 300 new jobs.

Gregory said "it will draw business from contiguous counties in a 50, 60, 100 mile radius, simply because the inventories will be here."

Chamber officials are still recruiting car dealerships and businesses for the Gateway to downtown. Auto Row still has room for 4 or 5 more new car dealerships.

posted at 3:37 by jimw@walb.com

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