Widespread changes set along Reno's 'Auto Row'

For Auto Row on Keitzke Lane, it's a time of change for some dealerships, while things will remain the same for others. Some brands and dealerships are migrating to the new center of the Truckee Meadows, along the South Virginia corridor; others are staying put.

But no matter who goes or stays, the longtime center of automotive retailing in northern Nevada never will be the same.

Reno-Mazda Kia is one dealership that is moving.

"We needed more property as our business has quadrupled since 1989," says Terry Petersen, owner of Reno Mazda-Kia. "We're land-locked, and it's a jam up around here in the weekends. And the growth is going to South Virginia."

Petersen says the new dealership, complete with a separate building for each brand, will be a cutting-edge facility. "We're expanding our service department and will have 40 bays available to handle our regular customers, as well as those that own cars from other brands."

Across the street from Petersen's dealership, Reno Toyota's Tom Dolan has very different plans.

"I'll be knocking down some of our buildings, but the Scion dealership will remain in the old Lexus building," Dolan says. "We also plan on redoing the landscaping."

Dolan says Toyota wanted him to rebuild the dealership with more modern facilities and an increased service area. Further north, near Mill Street, changes are brewing in some dealerships as well.

Sandy Pearce, who along with her brother owns the Bill Pearce dealerships, says they are planning some big moves for all but one of their brands.

"We're moving the entire facility, BMW, Porsche and Volvo, to South Virginia," she says. "We'll break ground in early August or around the first of September."

Pearce says they've been considering this move for some time and were looking in the 89512 and 89509 zip code areas along South Virginia. BMW is the driving force behind the move. The company wanted a more modern-looking facility. Pearce, with some humor, relates how the German company did a five-month demographic study reached the same conclusions Pearce already knows.

"Our new building will have a much larger service area, including double the space for BMWs, which we sell more of than any other brand," she says. "However, the Honda dealership will stay where it is. We just remodeled that building."

Nissan of Reno is across the street from Honda. Owner Taylor Wondries is still considering his options. Although several brands and dealerships are moving or getting ready to, some will stay put.

Jack Stanko, owner of Champion Chevrolet says he's keeping his dealership at its present location just south of Mill Street. "This is a good location, and we have 75,000 square feet of space," he says. "We're centrally located, and it's the same for downtown."

Other dealerships, such as Jones West Ford, Winkle Pontiac, GMC Hummer and Reno Dodge are not expected to move, although Reno Dodge is obtaining property to increase its storage on Mill Street.

Asked about how the City of Reno is viewing all this movement, Mayor Bob Cashell likes what he sees. "It's a good thing," Cashell says. "Especially since the types of dealerships that are moving will be a benefit for the city."

Petersen echoed this belief when he said, "South Virginia is a more prestigious location and where Reno is growing."


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