City officials last week hailed news of Jeff Wyler Chevrolet's expansion plans as good for central Ohio in general and Canal Winchester in particular.
The long-awaited expansion will start with a March 15 groundbreaking.
As a part of the terms of Wyler's purchase of Bob McDorman Chevrolet a year ago, he was required to bring the facility up to current GM standards. The company received approval for its plans Feb. 11 from the Canal Winchester Planning and Zoning Commission.
"With an $8-million-plus investment commitment of a new dealership in Canal Winchester, Wyler Chevrolet certainly sees the benefit of doing business here," Mayor Michael Ebert said. "While they are relatively new to central Ohio, they are not new to the automotive business and know what it takes to be successful.
"Coming out of the Cincinnati and Dayton market areas where they have been established for several years, they see Canal Winchester as a very viable market, and I understand their Canal Winchester dealership will be their largest of all," he added.
Councilmen John Bender and Steve Donahue agreed.
"This is really good news for Canal Winchester and is going to be a nice update," Bender said.
Canal Winchester Development Director Lucas Haire said the renovations will include removing some existing accessory structures and building a new dealership to the rear of the existing building.
The Corvette Country building will house a used-car dealership on site while a new, 55,000-square-foot building will house a new-car dealership, according to project designer James Watson of McGill Smith Punshon Inc.
"We'd like to break ground March 15," Watson said. "The original Wyler East Gate store in Cincinnati, which was reconstructed in 2010, is what this one will look like -- just the same, except this one in Canal Winchester will be much bigger than the East Gate store."
According to Watson, GM sets the standard colors and other specifications for new buildings to keep the branding similar across all dealerships.
The new facility will be oriented toward U.S. Route 33 instead of Gender Road, although entrances will still be located off Gender Road. Parking lot flow will be reoriented to direct customer traffic to the front of the building and separate out delivery traffic.
Watson said the new traffic pattern on site will also allow for future expansion, if that is ever desired.
"The boulevard street through the site is oriented in such a way that it could lead to another dealership to the west, so we're prepared for that contingency, but who knows?" he said.
"As for those future plans, I'm not aware of an additional dealership being located here but I wouldn't be surprised if there are."
Planning commission members agreed that this will be a welcome upgrade to the current facility and look forward to the final result.
"I ... think this is going to be a nice showcase for Canal Winchester right there on Route 33," Commissioner James Wynkoop said.
Haire said the dealership will have to come back with any changes to landscape and sign requirements as the project moves forward, but the iconic flagpole will remain on site.
"The flagpole on 33 will remain, with some updated landscaping, so it'll continue to be there for people who use it as a landmark," Haire said.
Permits are expected to be filed within a week, Watson said, so construction can get under way.
"We're glad to be here in Canal Winchester and we're very anxious to get started," he said.
"Wyler Chevrolet has been very active in Canal Winchester in the short time they have been here, with generous sponsorships and donations to various organizations," Ebert said. "We certainly congratulate Wyler Chevrolet and welcome their efforts and I'm sure their new dealership will help draw more visitors to Canal Winchester for even more shopping and dining experiences."