A new Subaru dealership that will feature a dog park for customers’ pets and bicycles to ride during maintenance visits is bound for Waco’s “Motor Mile,” the concentration of wheels and price stickers along West Loop 340.
The Douglass auto group hopes to place a 23,500-square-foot Subaru sales center, showroom and service department next to the Douglass Nissan dealership it operates near Baylor Scott & White Hillcrest Medical Center.
The city has approved a 7-acre Planned United Development at that site, city senior planner Beatriz Wharton said. The Waco City Council is scheduled to vote on a preliminary plat at its meeting Sept. 17, Wharton said.
Douglass now sells both Mitsubishi and Subaru vehicles at 4717 W. Waco Drive, but wants Subaru to have its own address, subject to Subaru approval.
“It absolutely deserves its own place,” Waco Subaru general manager Garry Ely said. “It is one of the fastest-growing manufacturers in the country. The rollout of the new Ascent has had a lot to do with that.”
The Ascent is Subaru’s largest vehicle, an SUV, whose 2020 model received 4.5 out of a possible 5 stars from Car & Driver magazine. Its critique cited as positives its “roomy and versatile cabins, full roster of features and balanced ride and handling,” but assigned negative marks for “awkward appearance, can be noisy at times, and some rivals have a bigger third row.”
The National Transportation and Safety Administration, meanwhile, assigned the 2019 Ascent five of a possible five stars, according to Car & Driver.
Statistics cited by trade magazines also show the Subaru Outback, Forester and Legacy models contributing to the Japanese automaker’s resurgence.
According to a report by carsalesbase.com, Subaru’s market share in the United States stood at 1.42% in 2008, when it sold 187,699 vehicles nationally. In 2013, the percentage had risen to 2.73% on 424,683 unit sales, and last year, market share reached 3.92% with 680,135 in unit sales.
Wharton said plans call for construction on Waco’s new Subaru store to start as early as next month, with the first phase wrapping up sometime next year, including the showroom and parts and service department. The dealership has discussed additional employee parking later, she said.
“Absolutely everything we do has to be approved through Subaru, including the signage,” Ely said.
He said he expects the switchover from limited space on Waco Drive to a full dealership on West Loop 340 will afford room for 100 to 120 new vehicles, plus space for pre-owned products.
Local acceptance of the Subaru brand is also growing, he said.
“We sold 50 Subaru vehicles last month, a record for Waco,” Ely said Friday.
The Douglass family of car dealers includes local representative Levi Douglass, a Texas A&M University graduate. The Douglass group bought Waco Nissan in 2016, then followed that up last year with the purchase of Jubilee Subaru/Mitsubishi on West Waco Drive. Levi Douglass said then plans were in the works to build a Subaru-only car store between the Nissan dealership and the building at Bagby Avenue and West Loop that became a Volkswagen dealership.
That prediction now is coming to fruition.
The exact address of the proposed Subaru store is 5605 Legend Lake Parkway, as it lies within the Legends Crossing development that continues to attract users, among them Saltgrass Steak House, Chuy’s, P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, Walk On’s Bistreaux and Bar and Los Cucos Mexican Cafe.
The upscale development is anchored by a small lake.
“Subaru is very pet friendly, which is why we propose having the dog park,” Ely said. “We want to let our customers know their pets are welcome. The bikes are for those who may want to ride over to the lake, visit the restaurants, while they are conducting business at the dealership.”
Waco real estate agents Jimmy Banks, Lisa Monroe and their agency, Triliji Group, have been instrumental in developing Legends Crossing. They built there The Axis at Legends Crossing, a retail center with space to lease. The Axis listing that appeared in 2017 on the LoopNet real estate site included demographic information showing that the median age of those living within one mile was 35.5 years, the median family income was $87,630 and the average family income was $101,937 — and 42 percent of those living within a mile having an average family income of more than $100,000.
Subaru’s arrival on Waco’s “Motor Mile” continues growth that last year included the arrival of Waco Volkswagen at West Loop 340 and Bagby Avenue, a collaboration by Leo Griggs, Luis Perez and Ralph Rickey, who serves as managing partner and appears as the local VW face on TV commercials.
Already enjoying close proximity to Richland Mall, Legends Crossing, Central Texas Marketplace, Providence Health Center and Baylor Scott & White Medical Center, the “Motor Mile” soon could see more activity.
The former Club Alazan, now Junction 84 night club at Loop 340 and U.S. Highway 84 has been bought by Dallas investor Marshall Stewman for redevelopment. Local real estate agent Gregg Glime said prospects nearing a deal include a sit-down restaurant that wants to take more than 4,000 square feet and a fast-service restaurant that would have a drive-thru lane on an outparcel.