The Collection Auto Group [CAG], based in Ohio, is looking to build the dealership on the 5.5-acre property at 80-82 Cambridge Street. CAG currently owns 22 dealerships in the Midwest and this would be the group's first in the area.
CAG will be at the Thursday Planning Board meeting to continue a public hear to have the property be part of the Burlington Corporate Drive Planned Development District. The group also is seeking permission to have a luxury car dealership allowed in the Planned Development District. The group will need Town Meeting approval and is set to be on the Jan. 27 Town Meeting warrant.
CAG founder and Bernie Moreno spoke with Burlington Patch about the project, some of the issues they have addressed and why he chose Burlington as the location for the new dealership.
Moreno said that Mercedes-Benz studied the Boston market and determined there was a need for a new dealership in the technological corridor, based on demographics, shopping patterns and sales performance.
"They then conducted a selection process to determine who should own the dealership and I was honored to be the one selected," Moreno said.
Moreno said the decision to choose Burlington was an easy one.
"Burlington is the ideal town," He said. "I call it a 'super suburb.' It has a mix of everything - it's very accessible, has a great residential area and has great institutions such as the Burlington Mall, Lahey Clinic and Oracle. Burlington was my first, second and third choice."
Moreno said that creating the plans for Burlington, a town that has much different aesthetics than the Midwest where he has his other dealerships, has been a learning curve. A traditional style dealership wouldn't work in the Corporate Drive Planned Development District he said, something he learned after meeting with members of the Planning Board. He said he had a design in his head but had to revise it after he had an informal meeting with planning members and got feedback from Joseph Impemba.
"Joe Impembo has been great at giving us feedback, he's been very up front," Moreno said. "He nixed a building with a design similar to one in Ohio."
Moreno said he and his team went back to the drawing board and came up with a new design, with further feedback from the Planning Board, that he thinks fits better with the aesthetics of that part of town (see renderings above).
Moreno said he also heard concerns about lighting. Most car dealerships have many lights on high polls with high wattage.
"Traditional dealerships have 1,000 watt lights," he said. "That's like saying you saying 'I want a drink of water' and I hit you with a fire hose. "Our high light polls will be in the back and each pole produces 28 watts, a thimble of water. And at 9 p.m. each one goes to only 10 percent of what it is before closing.
Out front the lights will be LED and be on old-fashioned gas lamp type poles.
Moreno said the one downside of the process thus far has been that the previous owners wouldn't sell the property on a contingency basis, meaning that CAG will own the property whether Town Meeting approves the zoning change to allow the dealership or not. He said if approval is not granted they will build an office building, which would not require a zoning change, at the location.
Finally, as is always a concern in Burlington, the traffic issue was brought up by members of the Planning Board. Moreno said that traffic studies show that a dealership would produce 80-percent less traffic than the Polomar business did. He also said the designs include a place where car carriers can unload on site rather than on Cambridge Street.
"We designed the property so car carriers can leave Cambridge Street immediately and go onto our property and turn around and easily and then go back onto Cambridge Street," he said. "You would never want to have a situation where a carrier would unload on Cambridge Street."
For more information on the proposed dealership check out Mbob.com.
What do you think? Would you like to see a dealership at this location? Let us know in the comments section below.