Pleasanton Weekly

News - June 24, 2011

Auto mall not moving to Staples Ranch

City will keep property zoned for automotive sales

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

Hendrick Automotive Group has decided against building a new auto mall on the Staples Ranch property being developed in northeast Pleasanton and instead will do extensive renovations at its current location on Rosewood Drive.

"We considered a number of factors, foremost being the economy and the current state of the retail automotive market," said Kirk Heppler, Senior Vice President and Western Division Chief Operating Officer for Hendrick Automotive Group.

"Although the industry is moving in a very positive direction, we're operating in a far different environment than prior to the recession when the Staples Ranch discussions began."

The Pleasanton Auto Mall has the following franchises: Acura of Pleasanton; East Bay BMW; East Bay Mini; Infiniti of Pleasanton; and Lexus of Pleasanton. Its new auto mall was to occupy a 37-acre portion of the Staples Ranch property, next to the I-580 junction at El Charro Road.

"The good news is that we get to keep a major sales tax provider for the city," said City Manager Nelson Fialho. "The bad news is there is no other tenant in the short term."

"For time being it's going to stay zoned as auto mall. From my perspective it's a great site for that," Fialho added, noting that the site has freeway frontage. "It's like banking land for use and someday we may need that use."

He said people have asked about using that part of Staples Ranch for homes but it lies inside the Airport Protection Zone set by the county, due to its proximity to Livermore Municipal Airport.

"This precludes residential development on that site," Fialho explained.

Preparation began last week at Staples Ranch for construction of a multi-million-dollar upscale retirement community being developed by Continuing Life Communities (CLC) with 635 units. Pleasanton is developing a 5-acre community park adjacent to that site.

A 17-acre community park is also planned, and 8 of its acres were tentatively earmarked for a two-story, four-rink facility to be built by San Jose Arena Management, a subsidiary of the San Jose Sharks.

"We have not had communications with them in over six months so we're not sure they're still interested in the site," Fialho said. "From our perspective that site was planned as community park and it was an added plus to have a Sharks facility. We still have a 17-acre park for the community and now the park expands to its full potential."

Plans for the 124-acre Staples Ranch property also include commercial and retail development. The site was recently annexed into the city of Pleasanton although the land is still owned by Alameda County.

Hendrick Automotive Group is planning to invest $6 million to $10 million to renovate its Pleasanton Auto Mall on Rosewood. Work is expected to begin within 120 days and conclude by the end of 2013.

The renovations, to be done in phases, will include state-of-the-art upgrades to building exteriors, showrooms, service areas and customer waiting areas. The dealerships will remain open while undergoing the upgrades.

As the mall's capacity increases, there are expected to be more career opportunities, according to a statement from Hendrick Automotive Group.

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