MODESTO — McHenry Avenue car dealers are investing more than $11 million in construction, renovation and expansion projects this winter, creating jobs and freshening the look along a one-mile stretch of Modesto's busiest commercial street.
Seemingly all at once, three dealerships started tearing down and rebuilding their showrooms and service areas. They're spending big bucks to modernize buildings and update appearances.
That's creating jobs.
"During the first phase, at its peak, we had 60 to 70 guys working out there from all the different construction trades," said Fernando Ramirez, senior project manager for Modesto's Simile Construction, which recently finished the first step in rebuilding Modesto Toyota.
Toyota's new 32-stall service and detailing building opened this month. This week, that dealership began demolishing its old used-car showroom, making room for construction of a showroom for new cars.
More demolition and construction will follow on the 14-acre site, with Timothy Huff & Associates of Modesto doing the architecture. Come September, there will be nearly 85,000 square feet in new facilities at 4513 McHenry Ave.
The rebuilt Modesto Toyota "will be much, much bigger and built to accommodate every aspect of customer convenience and streamlined service," said General Manager Kevin Stinson. He said it will have "state-of-the-art innovations in every area of the dealership."
Modesto European, at 3900 McHenry Ave., and Alfred Matthews Buick GMC Cadillac, at 3807 McHenry Ave., also are renovating.
"Our whole front building has been gutted," said Mickey Ollis, Modesto European's operations manager. The $1.6 million renovation will give the 3,407-square-foot Mercedes-Benz showroom "the factory image they want all the dealerships to have."
A $250,000 building with 2,738 square feet for work on Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans was completed in December, and a new service department will be built within eight months.
"Our customers are going to have a much better waiting room when they come in for service," Ollis said. "Our staff is going to end up being bigger because we expect our volume to grow."
Woodhams Construction of Fresno is overseeing the work for Modesto European, and Thom Torvend & Associates of Modesto did the architectural design.
Torvend also did the design for Alfred Matthews' $1.1 million renovation, and Simile Construction is overseeing that project.
Alfred Matthews has been in that building since 1974, and General Manager Paul Caron said "it needed an overhaul."
While Caron said nothing fancy is planned, the renovation includes $125,000 in energy-efficient showroom windows, a remodeled sales office, a new service kiosk and an expanded waiting room with a fresh look.
"All the car brands have a particular way they want the dealerships to look," said Caron, explaining how Alfred Matthews will conform to the updated General Motors style. To encourage that, GM "is assisting the dealers with the expense."
Caron said he got bids from 15 contractors, but he chose Simile in part because it's based in Modesto.
"We're trying to keep all the contractors local," Caron said. "We invest in the community."
Caron expects the remodeling will pay off: "When it's all done, we will sell more cars because of it."
Construction there is expected to be finished by March.
Bee staff writer J.N. Sbranti can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2196.