Auto dealers still mulling idea of auto mall in Douglas County

Carson City auto dealers who bid $14.6 million on 144 acres in northern Douglas County are gathering financing to pay for the land and haven't ruled out building an auto mall at the prime retail location.

Michael Hohl and Dink Cryer are awaiting a final judgment expected at the end of this month by a federal district court judge in Washington, D.C., who will decide whether the Bureau of Land Management followed proper procedure by selling the public land.

Carson City is suing the BLM and the U.S. Department of Interior for allegedly violating federal land acts and for failing to adequately plan for mitigating economic effects the land sale may have on Carson.

"Obviously, we don't have ownership of that land," Cryer said. "If (the judge) OKs the land deal, that's exciting, and if he goes in favor of Carson City, that's OK too. But we're not really spending a lot of time making plans. We'll be ready either way."

Cryer and Hohl paid close to $3 million in August following the land auction and are gathering the balance of the money.

Hohl, president of Michael Hohl Motor Co., filed with the Nevada Secretary of State's Office July 12, 2002, and incorporated as Carson Auto Mall, LLC, with the state.

Hohl's businesses include Michael Hohl Honda Subaru; Michael Hohl Motor Co. with Cadillac, Buick, Oldsmobile and GMC dealerships; and Michael Hohl RV Center. Cryer owns Carson Dodge Chrysler.

Hohl and Cryer are taking calls from anyone interested in doing something with the land, Cryer said. The land could be developed into an auto mall, but it's not the only possibility, he said.

"We're open for anybody and everybody," Cryer said. "If we decide to do a major auto mall, we'd like to have everybody. If it's a mini-mall, we'd like at least some of them. If there's no mall at all, who knows what will be there."

Joe McCarthy, economic development and redevelopment manager for Carson City, said there's no reason to believe the city's auto dealers will pack up and move south because of the land purchase. The city is continuing to meet with dealers regularly to keep them aware of efforts to find them a place to stay, he said.

"We fully recognize the auto dealers are the backbone and absolute center of our retail industry here and we also realize what good citizens they are in our community," McCarthy said.

Auto and gasoline sales make up approximately $4 million in sales tax revenue for Carson each year -- an estimated 20 percent of total sales tax revenue.

McCarthy said efforts are still under way to find a common place for auto dealers, who are facing the need to relocate and renovate properties because of the future Carson freeway. That might mean an auto mall, auto row or some other type of arrangement, McCarthy said.

"We're looking at how we can put a public/private partnership package together," he said. "We are working as fast as we can to have a package put together that will, in fact, bring resolution to this issue."

Douglas County development director Bob Nunes said last week Hohl and Cryer have not yet had any conversations with the county about what they might build at the site.


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