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Toyota Vallejo will relocate to shuttered Ford dealership
Toyota Vallejo will soon take a short road trip–to the vacant former Cornelius Ford dealership on Columbus Parkway. Toyota Vallejo President Jack Wilson confirmed Wednesday he and his two partners had bought the former Ford dealership, a vacant segment of the city's auto mall. Wilson said he's had his eye on the seven-acre site since the Cornelius Ford dealership closed its doors in August 2008. Plans are to move Toyota Vallejo's from its existing spot on Admiral Callaghan Lane in September, Wilson said.
After escrow closed Wednesday on the Ford property, painters could be seen that afternoon painting signs on the windows and doors reading – "Coming Soon Toyota Vallejo." "It's very exciting with Toyota coming in," said neighboring car dealer Kenny Ross, who had moved his Team Chevrolet Cadillac and Team Mazda Hyundai to the Columbus Parkway auto mall several years ago.
Besides Toyota Vallejo moving in, the 178,000 square foot new Lowe's home improvement store adjacent to the auto mall is being built rapidly, Ross said. "This will be a very active thoroughfare," Ross added. Need for more space was the primary motivation to relocate and pursue the closed Ford dealership, Wilson said. "The reason you do something like this is to provide better service for your customers in an upscale part of Vallejo," Wilson said.
"It's twice as large as our existing store, particularly the service area where we do our repair work," he added. The additional space will allow Toyota Vallejo to expand its maintenance and service area, offer more express lanes for oil changes and other relatively quick and minor services, and also provide a car wash and rental vehicles. The Columbus Parkway facility also has larger vehicle showroom, Wilson said. "When it came on the market we started looking into it," Wilson said. "You don't get in a hurry with these things. It just takes time to negotiate a favorable transaction on that sale."
Wilson declined to state the purchase price as did a Ford Motor Company spokesman. Wilson said he bought the property with his partners -- son Jeff Wilson and General Manager Dave Johnston. Last year, the former Ford dealership, including a nearly 52,000-square foot building and automotive repair facility, was on the market for $8.4 million; but it was not immediately known if the price had changed.
The future of Toyota Vallejo's Admiral Callaghan Lane property is not yet clear, though Wilson said he would like to lease it out. The parcel's most appealing aspect, he said, is strong visibility along the Interstate 80 corridor. Despite the economy and Vallejo's overall financial troubles, Wilson said the city has much potential and his move and expansion is symbolic of that. "We believe in the future of Vallejo. It's tough now and tough for business, but Vallejoans are a resilient group. The tough times create opportunities," Wilson said.
Besides drawing more business to the northeast quadrant, Vallejo could draw more jobs and business through development on the nearby Solano County Fairgrounds property, Wilson said. Businesses are looking at the northeast quadrant and other parts of Vallejo, but nothing is definite, city Community Development Analyst Annette Taylor said. One potential business looking at a spot near the auto mall is an In-N-Out Burger franchise, Taylor said. However, zoning requirements would need to be amended before that business could come in, she added. "We hope the Toyota location becomes available. Maybe that will attract a good user," Taylor said. At least two other businesses were also vying for the closed Ford dealership, Taylor said. In addition, Solano Community College had been interested in buying it to expand the Vallejo Center on Columbus Parkway, but the school was outbid. Solano College President Jowel Laguerre said the institution is not presently pursuing a possible purchase of nearby property. Instead, the college may build a second building on the Vallejo Center campus to accommodate increased enrollment, Laguerre said.
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