Two local real estate agents are double-teaming a tract at West Loop 340 and Exchange Parkway, where Hewlett Volkswagen of Georgetown had planned to build a VW store before bowing out to a market competitor.
Brad Harrell, with KW Commercial, and 42-year veteran commercial broker Jon Spelman confirmed they both are listing the 5.7-acre site that carries a $2.17 million asking price. Harrell said efforts to move the property have accelerated with the opening Nov. 15 of Volkswagen of Waco, Bagby Avenue at West Loop 340, by a group led by veteran South Texas auto dealer Leo Griggs. Partner Ralph Rickey, a former VW executive in the U.S., manages the store.
Rickey, pausing between takes while taping a commercial, said local customers apparently have taken a liking to Waco’s VW store, which occupies a building that previously housed an Alfa Romeo-Fiat dealership.
“We couldn’t be happier,” said Rickey. “Everybody we meet says they are glad they don’t have to drive to Temple, to Hewlett Volkswagen or to Killeen. We’ve sold at least 50 vehicles the past two weeks, and are pleased with the progress of the store. Most of those stopping by are from the Waco area, though we had one customer who drove up from Austin.”
He said the VW store will have 170 new cars and 60 used vehicles on the lot at any given time. It receives deliveries from the Volkswagen assembly plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and from manufacturing plants in Mexico and Germany, most of those coming through the Houston Ship Channel.
Rickey said ownership would have no interest in the acreage being marketed elsewhere on West Loop 340, saying, “We think we chose the right site.”
Harrell, speaking by phone, said he received two inquiries about the property early in the listing process, but nothing materialized.
“I would say we are remarketing the site,” said Harrell. “It’s kind of the last tract on the ‘Motor Mile,’ and I think that’s a reasonable price on that stretch of highway. I don’t really see retail going in there. That price, I believe, would be attractive primarily to someone wanting to sell cars. We did receive a call from a dealer outside Waco, but they did not identify their brand.
“We have not had anything solid yet,” Harrell said.
The site in question is located next to Greg May’s Hyundai dealership.
“I have not directly approached Greg, but I would assume he knows about its availability. There are signs in place,” Harrell said.
May could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Spelman said the site years ago belonged to the Waco Industrial Foundation, which makes acreage available for development typically at below-market rates. He said a would-be auto dealer in 2009 placed the land under contract, even having an engineering study performed, but pulled out of the deal as a severe recession continued knocking the wind from the economy.
Spelman also was instrumental in finding the Bird-Kultgen Ford dealership a new home on West Loop 340, coordinating a deal that moved the Ford store from downtown to the former Enhanced Glass site on the loop.
The site he and Spelman are marketing is 1.5 miles from both U.S. Highway 84 and Interstate 35, and is served by an off-ramp. It is zoned M-2, light industrial, and taxes on the property totaled $50,848 last year, according to promotional material provided by Spelman and Harrell.
Hewlett Volkswagen, based in Georgetown, had been eyeing the Waco market since 2013, and spent several years pursuing approval from VW corporate to enter the Waco market, going as far as submitting site plans to the city of Waco, according to Bobby Horner, who oversees inspection services.
But those plans changed, and Griggs and Rickey made their move.
Also on “Motor Mile,” the Douglass family from College Station, owners of the Nissan and Subaru dealerships locally, is taking steps to develop a site on West Loop 340 to accommodate a new Subaru store, Levi Douglass, a partner in the company, told the Tribune-Herald in a recent interview.