With the help of family, city officials and business associates, Michael Hohl tossed the ceremonial shovel of dirt to officially break ground Tuesday morning on his new Honda and Subaru dealerships on South Carson Street.
"This is a real exciting time for us," Hohl said, flanked by his wife, Karen. "A lot of you know we've been working on this for almost 10 years, and putting it together is a real thrill."
The 7.5-acre parcel between Les Schwab Tires and Michael's Cycle Works will hold a 25,000-square-foot Honda showroom and service facility, and a 20,000-square-foot Subaru dealership. They will replace the six-acre facility on North Carson Street.
The move also will put all of Carson City's new car dealers in the same area on South Carson Street.
"It's not exactly an auto mall, but it's an auto row, and the synergies there are big, real big," Hohl said.
It also allows the Hohl Honda and Subaru dealerships to work with their nearby GM dealership, so they can more easily share employees and move inventory. Hohl earlier this year combined Valley Chevrolet with his existing GM dealership
on South Carson.
Hohl's son Matthew Hohl is the general manager for the Honda and Subaru dealerships, and will continue in that role when the new facilities are completed next spring.
The dealership received $2.4 million in city redevelopment funds, and Hohl thanked former mayor Marv Teixeira and former supervisor Richard Staub, and current mayor Bob Crowell and supervisors Shelly Aldean, Robin Williamson and Pete Livermore for helping get the project off the ground.
"It's very exciting for Carson City and for our economic future," Supervisor Williamson said. "We have worked long and hard to try and be diverse, but we always recognized that one of the special things about Carson City is our auto sales here, and this is an investment in our future."
The move south does put the dealerships farther away from the Reno market, but Hohl thinks the opening of the new section of freeway will negate the extra mileage.
Once the move is complete, Hohl said the old facility will be open to be redeveloped to fit in with the changing economics of the area.
"We have a lot of ideas and interested parties," Hohl said. "Based on the proximity to the hospital and access to Medical Parkway, Highway 395 and the freeway offramp, it will probably be some kind of a medical facility. We'll see what happens."