Change is afoot for U.S. 19 auto dealers
By JENNIFER GOLDBLATT, Times Staff Writer
PORT RICHEY -- West Pasco's auto dealers might soon be shuffling some locations, which could add a Ford dealership to the mix on U.S. 19.
AutoNation Inc., the Fort Lauderdale-based owner of Autoway Pontiac GMC Truck North and Coastal Cadillac, confirmed its plans to move the Pontiac GMC dealership to a 5-acre parcel of vacant land it owns next to Coastal Cadillac, at the intersection of U.S. 19 and Fox Hollow.
Talk in the auto community is that Bay Ford wants to move to the Pontiac location from its current location at 8702 State Road 52, but a Bay Ford owner would not confirm that that's the case.
"I can't make any comment about that right now," Jason Kuhn, a co-owner of Bay Ford, said Monday. "No deal has been done." When asked about whether he was considering moving to that location, he said, "We're considering a whole host of options on whether to move."
Meanwhile, an AutoNation official said that two factors are driving that company's moving plans.
"Having a better and newer facility for Pontiac GMC and taking advantage of land that's sitting idle," said Oscar Suris, an AutoNation spokesman. He cautioned that the move is subject to approval by the manufacturers.
"This is still very much a project that has a way to go, and we don't foresee completion until -- at a minimum -- mid 2003. It's very early in the game, and we haven't obtained manufacturer's approval, but that's our intention."
Suris said that the two dealerships would remain distinct, and that it was highly unlikely that any of the 114 employees at the two dealerships would lose their jobs. In fact, more employees could be added.
"We often use this (kind of move) to expand service departments and add new personnel," Suris said.
AutoNation, which has 369 new vehicle franchises nationwide, bought Coastal Cadillac in 1997 and the Pontiac GMC dealership in 1999. Autoway Pontiac, located at 10715 U.S. 19, has about 115 new and used cars and annual revenues of $28-million. Coastal Cadillac, located at 9929 U.S. 19, has 137 new and used cars and $52-million in annual revenues, according to AutoNation.
Kuhn is a co-owner of Direct Motor Cars Inc., which bought the Ford dealership from Gary Brown last year. The dealership also includes a used car lot on U.S. 19 just north of State Road 52.
-- Staff writer Jennifer Goldblatt covers business in Pasco County. She can be reached in west Pasco at 869-6229, or toll free 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6229. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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