Jeff Wyler Auto Mall will begin building two new dealerships on First Street near U.S. 68 at the former Forever Sports location this month, a move that comes after dealers have reported a bump in auto sales in the last year.
The dealer will build a 26,000-square-foot Chevrolet show space, and a 23,000-square-foot Toyota dealership at the site on 2237 W. First St. Jay Lawrence, general manager of the auto mall at 1501 Hillcrest Ave., wouldn’t say the total cost for the project, but the business paid $800,000 to purchase the site this month, according to the county auditor’s office.
The new construction is driven in part by improved sales, which have grown for dealers across the state. At Jeff Wyler Auto Mall, Lawrence said sales are up about 10 percent and have grown each month.
“It’s all relative,” said Tim Doran, president of the Ohio Auto Dealers Association. “Relative to 2009 we’re doing well, but relative to 2011 it’s kind of flat. It’s grown since 2009, but that was the low point so things have gotten better since then.”
Sales are reflected in Clark County’s employment numbers. From 2007 to 2010 employment at auto dealerships dropped from 492 to 382 county wide, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2011, the numbers rose to 391.
Wyler’s new buildings — which will be complete by early fall of 2013 — are also being built to accommodate the manufacturer’s wishes. They want their own spaces. But Lawrence also said auto sales have rebounded this year.
“We have to tear down the existing five buildings and then we will work on the soil and get the property build-able,” he said. “It’ll take about 45 days. Then we should start construction immediately following that.”
“We see there’s some growth opportunity,” Lawrence said. “We’re staying compliant with manufacturers and we hope to sell more cars. I think it’ll increase our sales and customer satisfaction.”
Jeff Wyler is expecting to hire more people for the new buildings, but Lawrence couldn’t say how many.
Doran said 2012 started out promising for auto dealers but the influx of buyers has cooled some what.
“People are very concerned about where the economy is headed, and a car purchase is a big sum,” he said.
At Foreman-Blair Buick GMC Cadillac at 242 E. Columbia St., sales have been “spotty but up.”
“You’ll go through a cycle and have nothing for weeks but then be really busy,” said owner Jim Foreman. He said new cars have been popular lately.
Foreman-Blair is forecasting more sales for the future, especially as it finishes with its remodeling. Foreman said he finished remodeling the front showroom last week and is waiting on new furniture.
“We’re hoping with the remodeling, it’ll spark some interest and people will stop by,” he said.
Another Springfield dealer, Bill Marine Honda, completed a major expansion as it moved into a new building in 2008.
Several factors have allowed more people to buy cars. Lawrence said it’s easier to get loans to purchase a car, and interest rates are lower.
“Consumers have held off buying cars for the last couple of years because of the economy, and there comes a point where it’s not necessarily a luxury, it’s a necessity,” he said. “That has something to do with it. The economy is a little better, and that also has something to do with it.”
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