Although Michael Hohl has operated his auto sales in Carson City for more than 20 years, his ambition is an auto mall, and he could go to Douglas County to build it.
Hohl, owner of four dealership locations in Northern Nevada and two RV centers, said Wednesday he plans to build multimillion-dollar stores for his Honda and Subaru dealerships and his new Chevrolet dealership. But where is a question he can't answer.
"There are too many variables to tell you today," Hohl said.
The new stores amount to a nearly $15 million investment, one that Carson City officials would like to secure within city limits. In 2005, the automotive sector generated one-third of the city's total taxable sales. It is the largest single sector of sales-tax revenues.
Hohl isn't planning on putting his new stores where the Honda and Subaru dealerships are on North Carson Street because that's not the auto mall setting he wants. Douglas County is a desirable location because of the availability of land and lower cost.
"I have a lot of Douglas land available. I could build there or in Carson City," he said.
Hohl and auto dealer Dink Cryer own 32 acres north of Topsy Lane on the east side of Highway 395 in Douglas County, according to assessor records. They also own an 87-acre parcel in Douglas County on the east side of Highway 395 North, south of Topsy Lane. Hohl said the possible development of this large parcel is separate from his future auto stores.
Hohl complimented Douglas County's development strategy, calling it very aggressive and forward thinking in regard to building retail.
Hohl is not ruling out South Carson City. He's also not ruling out using city redevelopment funds, but his first choice is an auto mall, something that Carson City cannot support, said Joe McCarthy, city economic development and redevelopment manager.
McCarthy said successful auto malls require 50 to 60 acres, and Carson City just doesn't have the vacant land. But the city wants the new stores.
"We will go out of our way to make sure he can build great, brand new stores on South Carson Street," said McCarthy. "That's a huge investment and we're determined to participate with vigor to help Michael build those stores."
South Carson Street contains an auto row, which has several brand vehicles, but not all in one location.
Hohl could seal an incentive package similar to the one granted to auto dealer Dick Campagni.
Carson City sealed a deal with Campagni, owner of four Carson City dealerships, in 2005 that provided a $3.6 million incentive for him to buy six acres on South Carson Street for a new Toyota dealership.
McCarthy said he last spoke to Hohl several months ago about eight acres the auto dealer has on South Carson Street, near Campagni's Toyota store.
Hohl has land across from the Dodge dealership on South Carson Street, plus his existing RV center, which could be redeveloped.
On Wednesday afternoon Hohl signed the dealer agreement with GM. His purchase of Valley Chevrolet in Carson City and Carson Valley Chevrolet in Minden closed March 1 for an undisclosed amount. This buyout completes a sale that Hohl said he has pursued since 1995.
The land is owned by the Dennis Plummer Trust, of Lodi, Calif., according to assessor records. Plummer declined to comment on the sale.
"We're the past, he's the future," Plummer said.
In late summer 2006, Hohl said Plummer decided he wanted to sell his stores here and concentrate on his dealerships in California.
"We're very excited to have Michael Hohl continue and expand with the GM family," said Robert Hilgardner, zone manager for the Western region of GM.
Hohl said he replaced two Valley Chevrolet managers but most of the remaining 70 employees are staying on.
"We're thrilled to be here," he said. "We have a lot of long-term employees who are fitting into the organization well."
Those who drive by the Chevy store, 2500 N. Carson St., will see the signs change in about a month. More new and used cars will be added to the lot and "they'll see their neighbors buying cars here," said Hohl.
• Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1212.
Michael Hohl's auto empire:
In Carson City:
Michael Hohl Chevrolet
2500 N. Carson St.
Hohl purchased the dealership this month and is leasing the 2.7 acres for three years, with an option to extend it.
Hohl plans to build a new $6 million Chevrolet store, employing about 100 people, in 2008 or 2009. This 40,000-square-foot store will contain about $15 million in inventory, including 100 used and 300 new vehicles.
A location has not yet been decided.
Michael Hohl Honda/Subaru
4500 N. Carson St.
Hohl plans to break ground this year on a new $4.5 million Honda store and a $4.2 million Subaru store. Building plans are complete. The 30,000-square-foot Honda store will hold $10 million of inventory with 100 used and 200 new vehicles. The 25,000-square-foot Subaru store will hold about the same inventory. Together the two stores will employ about 100 people.
Locations of these two stores will be decided soon.
Michael Hohl Motor Co. Buick/GMC/Cadillac
3700 S. Carson St.
Michael Hohl RV Center
4455 S. Carson St.
Michael Hohl Carson Valley Chevrolet
1601 Highway 395
Hohl purchased the dealership this month and has a lease on the property for seven years, with an option to extend it.
The Chevrolet stores are managed by Michael Hohl Jr.
Michael Hohl RV Center
10450 S. Virginia St.
- Source: Michael Hohl