Needed: Your Ideas For Empty Dealerships.

May 21, 2009

On a recent trip to visit Tesla Motors, I learned that the tony manufacturer landed its HQ in equally tony Menlo Park because the locale's city council hated the empty dealerships along the busy Santa Cruz thoroughfare. The city made Tesla an offer they couldn't refuse on an abandoned Chevrolet dealership.

Menlo Park was fortunate in that they found a business to take over the Chevy store, but the city must decide what to do with several other vacant ex-dealership properties North of the Tesla location. With Chrysler and General Motors closing down some 2,000 dealerships across the country, Menlo Park's problem will become all too familiar to just about any town.

Empty dealership interior

Empty dealership interior

Enlarge Photo

In Grosse Pointe, my home town that is just North of Detroit, we're facing the same problem. Along Mack Ave., two dealerships are in jeopardy. What's going to become of their significnant acerage?

The folks at Planetizen.com have started the discussion, and they want your input. Our current favorite is the idea to make these 10-acre site (about the average for a metro dealer) into high-rise housing units that offer take-off and landing for hydrogen-powered flying cars.

As you can imagine, here in Detroit we're pretty familiar with unused commercial and industrial property. There is an old Packard Motor Car Company factory on Detroit's east side that's spent decades derelict. I believe it's most profitable uses thus far have been haunted house-type seasonal thrillers and a paint-ball war theater. Let us hope that better uses are conjured for empty dealerships.

What we know for sure that you can always use them as something to blow up or destroy like in every guy's favorite movie, Road House.

Empty dealership

Empty dealership

Enlarge Photo

Photo credit: Doug Sandberg at the former San Rafael HUMMER Saab

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