Richfield Bloomington Honda can begin work on a 100,000 square-foot expansion it has been planning.
In a series of decisions including the approval of final development plans, the Richfield City Council unanimously approved the work during its Tuesday, June 25 meeting.
The dealership has outgrown the space it has occupied since 1986, when it sold about 1,000 cars per year. Cars now leave the lot at a pace of 2,800 per year and management has deemed the current 28,000 square-foot footprint too small, says a city staff report.
The campus will expand to 133,000 square- feet as it takes over neighboring spaces that once belonged to LaMettry’s Auto Body, USA Baby and Tires Plus. The dealership now owns that property.
A Mitsubishi dealership, moving from American Boulevard in Bloomington, will occupy one-third of the new footprint, to make for a two-dealership campus. Both dealerships are owned by the same dealership group and both will stand two stories tall, with their storefronts facing West 77th Street.
On their south side, the dealerships will rise above Interstate 494, with the Honda store planning a special feature to further catch motorists’ eyes. Designs call for a second-story cantilevered mezzanine, a vehicle-display case that will jut out from the outside wall.
The dealership plans to add another prominent feature eventually – a parking garage rising three-to-five stories. The council’s approval of the expansion included stipulations meant to keep dialog open as the ramp is constructed and to encourage that it be built within five years.
The goal of the new dealership is to produce a noncommercial feel, in the tradition of the “small town in the big city” theme that Richfield claims, said Tim Carter, the dealership’s general manager.
“We want to emulate that to a big degree,” Carter said, describing a scene of park benches, shade trees and flowers.
“When you drive through, you’re going to feel like you’re at a city park.”
The council approved the $25 million project with no debate, concluding a first-of-its kind process for Richfield. City staff and the council met with Richfield Bloomington Honda representatives in April for a “sketch plan review,” the first time the city has conducted a public meeting to review a project at that stage on conception.
“This project with Richfield Bloomington Honda and their architect was so collaborative, it almost feels like it was our plan collectively,” Community Development Director John Stark said.
“This is the way every development process should work in my mind.”
As the council warmly received the plans, Councilmember Pat Elliott called the new dealership part of a “beautification process,” adding:
“It’s going to work really well to develop the 77th Street corridor.”
Construction on the Mitsubishi dealership is set to begin in August, with the Honda dealership’s pre-owned department planning to stay open and to move to the former USA Baby site to make room. The Mitsubishi dealership anticipates opening at the new auto campus in December.
Work on the new Honda dealership is scheduled to begin in February and is expected to take about one year, while the current dealership remains open.
The existing Honda dealership will stay standing until the new construction is finished, to be replaced by a parking lot.
Construction of the parking garage is anticipated by 2020.
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