Fox Grand Traverse is expanding again, this time adding a little Italian to its automotive lineup and – if Garfield Township allows – bumping its BMW line to bigger and better digs across U.S. 31.
John Cueter, director of Fox Motors’ northern division, tells The Ticker that Fox will bring the Italian-engineered Fiat brand into Fox’s family of dealerships on U.S. 31 South, currently home to Ford, Lincoln, Mercury, Mazda, Mercedes and BMW.
“Fiat was a perfect fit for us,” says Cueter. “It’s a fuel efficient, unique, hip product that is gaining popularity across the nation.”
Meanwhile, the Ford, Lincoln and Mazda dealerships will undergo massive renovations – chief among them a revamp designed to highlight Ford’s green endeavors with features like electric charging stations for Ford’s Focus Electric vehicles.
Fox will move the Fiat line into the current BMW showroom. To house its BMW line, Fox plans to erect an all-new dealership at 2801 U.S. 31 North. The vision: a state-of-the-art showroom that will serve as the prototype for a new kind of display BMW is launching across North America. The dealership is working to bring Ludwig Willisch, the president and CEO of BMW North America, to Traverse City to herald the new dealership’s great reveal in May of 2013. The planned 4,000-square-foot dealership will be twice the size of BMW of Traverse City’s current facility.
"BMW needs this new building,” says Cueter. “We are selling more BMWs than ever and have outgrown our current facility. Our BMW customers will be happy to hear that we will have up to 10 new service bays, so when a BMW needs service, we’ll be able to get them back on the road right away."
Local developer Lionel Thomas, who led the conversion of the former Grand Traverse Auto development into Fox Grand Traverse’s headquarters in 2009, will helm the projects. TC’s Whiteford Associates will serve as architects; construction will be done by local contractors. When finished, the new and expanded dealerships will spur the hiring of 10 to 20 additional employees.
Before construction can begin, however, Fox has one zoning hurdle to jump: The proposed BMW dealership’s property, which Fox already owns, is zoned commercial – save for about 220 feet that is zoned agricultural. Current plans call for Fox to put a drainage basin for storm-water runoff in the agriculture-zoned section, necessitating a change in zoning. Fox representatives have requested and been granted a public hearing on the matter before the Garfield Township Planning Commission on July 11.
Work on the Ford, Mazda and Lincoln re-do kicks off this week and is expected to be completed by early November. The Fiat dealership, which will begin taking shape soon after, will be open by the end of 2012.