Posted: May 31, 2012, 1:05 PM
Join Date: Dec 2010
$50M auto mall for city
A new crop will rise in a farmer's field in east London, one of steel and glass.
A $50 million auto mall with seven car dealerships will be built on 15 hectares of farm field, bounded by Crumlin Sideroad, Veterans Memorial Parkway and Dundas St..
The mall marks a transition in London for car dealers to a big box, power centre model, common in the United States and the Toronto area, but not seen here before.
"It's a proven way to sell vehicles, people like to go to them," said Brian Semkowski, a successful London software developer who owns London City Chrysler Semkowski is president of Shrew Sports Corp. that will build the mall.
"It brings people out, it offers one-stop shopping where they can walk around and look at different vehicles," he said.
The mall also offers economies of scale because marketing and advertising costs are shared, Semkowski said.
He's signed five of the seven car dealers and is in talks with the remaining two. The site also will offer a retail component featuring a restaurant, gas bar and bank.
The auto mall trend is on the rise as dealers in the Toronto area have seen them embraced by buyers who like the convenience, said Todd Bourgon, executive director of the Trillium Dealers Association, a provincial agency representing new dealerships.
"The big thing about this is the efficiencies. Buyers can shop for more than one brand at the same time," he said.
"In the U.S, and here, it has proven to be successful."
Semkowksi is adding a new Mazda dealership, London City Mazda, that he also owns.
The development will cost $50 million, $6.6 million of which is to buy the land.
Semkowski said the mall will be direct competition to the auto mile on Wharncliffe Rd. featuring many car dealers. The development will leave several large vacant storefronts where the dealers moving to the mall are located.
The proposal for the mall went to the city's planning and environment committee this week and was referred back to staff to rework a road proposal in the plan.
It's not certain when Semkowski will get the green light for development.
ON THE MOVE
Dealerships moving to a new auto mall in southeast London:
MacMaster Chevrolet Leavens Volkswagen Competition Toyota London City Mazda, a new dealership London City Chrysler Two more to be announced