Council wants assurances from car dealer
Officials seek a written pledge regarding test drives.
By ALEXANDRA ZAYAS
Published October 20, 2006
A real-estate investment company wants to tear down a 60-year-old strip mall on W Kennedy Boulevard and replace it with a Kuhn upscale used car dealership. But neighbors don't want BMWs and Jaguars zooming through their residential streets on test drives.
At a City Council hearing last week, KLM Realty's attorney Mark Bentley promised neighbors that sales representatives would keep test drivers on main roads. Council members told him to put it in writing, and return in two weeks, when they will decide whether to rezone the property.
Currently, the strip mall at 4001 W Kennedy Blvd. is home to a Radio Shack, Scott Paint and Bangz Salon & Spa. The 1.25-acre property, between Grady and Hale avenues on the north side of Kennedy, is across from a Kuhn Honda dealership.
KLM Realty proposes to tear down 18,000 square feet of the 21,000-square-foot center, and renovate the remaining 3,000 into a Key West-style sales center for the dealership, which would display about 60 cars along Kennedy.
Developers plan to add a sidewalk around the edge of the property, a 6-foot buffer wall, landscaping and a drainage system.
The change actually could improve the neighborhood, Bentley said. The plan proposes only two signs, which will reduce the existing signage by 80 percent, Bentley said. Developers say traffic would decrease nearly 90 percent per day, from 946 trips to and from the strip mall per day now down to 100 per day. And the hours of operation will be limited to 7 p.m. on weekdays and 6 p.m. on weekends. These days, the strip center operates into the night.
Still, several North Bon Air neighbors don't like the idea.
Richard Reavis said he bought a car from Kuhn early this summer, and a sales person allowed him to test drive in the neighborhood.
"More traffic is not what we need in the neighborhood," Reavis said at the hearing. "No matter how pretty a picture you paint it, a used car lot is still a used car lot."
Council member Kevin White, who once worked as a car salesman, said sales representatives don't always do what they're told to do.
"Because the bottom line is they are trying to look out for their pockets and their families, and they don't want to lose that sale," White said.
White spoke favorably of the petition, which would rezone the property from commercial general to a planned development.
"You have to admit, the facade of this project is much more aesthetically appealing than what's there now," White said. "You have a row of Dumpsters. You have illegal dumping. You have graffiti on the wall."
Council member John Dingfelder also supported the plan, pointing out that the current zoning would allow for many commercial general uses. "You know, fast-food restaurants and everything else."
The council will re-examine the plans next Thursday, with the conditions added that would keep test drivers out of the neighborhood. Bentley also will add other stipulations: No delivery vehicles. No flags or balloons. No loudspeakers.
Alexandra Zayas can be reached at 226-3354 or email@example.com.
What's next: One more review
The rezoning hearing will be Thursday at 10 a.m. in the third-floor council chambers at City Hall, 315 E Kennedy Blvd.
[Last modified October 19, 2006, 12:26:04]
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