Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Mercedes dealership to open in Fairfield's auto mall

Mercedes dealership to open in Fairfield's auto mall
East Bay Business Times - June 29, 2007by Jessica Saunders
Stephanie Secrest | East Bay Business Times

Sean Quinn, community development director of Fairfield, with an artist’s sketch of the new dealership. afford.

View Larger Mercedes-Benz USA will open a 49,000-square-foot dealership in the Fairfield Auto Mall by the fourth quarter of 2008, expanding the mall's roster of luxury nameplates.

George Grinzewitsch Jr., owner of Von Housen Automotive Group of El Dorado Hills, was looking for 4.5 acres in Solano County to house a new Mercedes dealership that would be owned by former Mercedes-Benz USA President and CEO Paul Halata and his son Mark Halata.

Mercedes' interest in Solano County was welcome news to Fairfield, which wanted to capitalize on the auto mall as its biggest tax-revenue generator. "We had been trying to attract a higher-name dealer in there for quite a while," said Sean Quinn, Fairfield's director of community development.

The only problem was that large parcels were becoming scarce at the 31-acre property along Interstate 80, which already hosts a dozen dealerships, he said. Finally, it came down to Simon Buniak, who owned 4.5 acres with freeway frontage and was planning to build a Mazda and Suzuki dealership there.

Although Buniak was actively marketing the site and had submitted building plans to the city, "he didn't need all the land, only about 1.5 acres," Quinn said. "After extensive negotiations he agreed to sell to Mr. Grinzewitsch."

The Mercedes property deal closed about a month ago. Quinn said Buniak, owner of Golden State Mitsubishi and Suzuki in Sacramento, would build his dealership in a new addition to the auto mall property, on a city-owned 1.46-acre redevelopment parcel where a motel was demolished. "It was an extremely complicated negotiation," he said.

Grinzewitsch, whose company operates dealerships in El Dorado Hills, Rocklin and Reno, will develop the Mercedes property for lease by the Halatas. City officials have done a "conceptual review" of the proposed building and expect to receive full plans within the next month, Quinn said. Escondido-based Marca Architecture Inc. designed a glass-and-metal two-story structure with rooftop parking. Groundbreaking is expected in early 2008.

The mall, which generated $3 million in city tax revenue in 2006, currently hosts Acura, Chrysler, Jeep, Kia, Plymouth, Dodge, Honda, Hyundai, Infiniti, Lincoln, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Toyota and Volvo dealerships. In addition to incoming Mercedes, Mazda and Suzuki, Saturn has plans in for a 22,258-square-foot building at the auto mall.

jsaunders@bizjournals.com | 925-598-1427

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