TURLOCK -- For the first time in nearly four years, cars are for sale at the city's most visible lot.
New owner Inder Dosanjh confirmed this week that Turlock Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram is open at the former Turlock Auto Plaza, just off Highway 99 on Fulkerth Road.
"We are selling and servicing cars now with limited staff," Do-
sanjh said. "We are testing our systems and processes."
Dosanjh, a former mechanic in Modesto who now operates several dealerships in the Bay Area and Hawaii, said "normal operations" will start this weekend, with a grand opening planned in the middle of August.
Five dealerships at the Turlock Auto Plaza closed in late 2008, early victims of the recession. With them went a big chunk of sales taxes for the city of Turlock.
But Dosanjh said he believes people will return to the car market, and pointed to strong sales at the Plaza in previous years.
He's apparently not alone in that view. Turlock Chamber of Commerce director Sharon Silva said at least one other car dealer has expressed interest in opening a sales lot in the same area.
The new dealerships would join Smith Chevrolet, which has remained the sole car seller in the area since moving from its downtown location in 2001. Patchett's Ford operates a large dealership a couple of miles north on Highway 99.
A second site, just north of Smith and Turlock Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram, remains vacant. It formerly housed a Subaru dealership.
Silva said the new dealership, coupled with other businesses in various stages of development, will help strengthen the city's economy. An Olive Garden restaurant and retailers Old Navy and Ulta are set to open later this year or early next year at Monte Vista Crossings.
"It's all good news," she said.
Bee staff writer Patty Guerra can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2343.