As Dealerships Empty Out, Cities Look at Options for Reuse

As the auto industry evolves, the vast car lots that sprung up in many California towns over the past few decades are falling out of use. Cities are looking at new ways to reuse these spaces.
February 24, 2010, 6am PST | Nate Berg
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More than 260 auto dealerships have closed in California over the past two years, according to industry analysts.

"There are roughly 9.1 million square feet of empty buildings sitting on more than 1,000 acres of prime commercial real estate. The changed landscape has left cities scrambling to make up the lost revenue.

Despite the numbers, Welch and other industry analysts believe that auto centers are not about to disappear. New franchises will reoccupy some of the shuttered dealerships once the economy improves, they say.

But fundamental changes in the way cars are marketed point to fewer car lots in the future, Fulton said. As buyers turn to the Internet to find good deals and seek out sellers they don't have to haggle with, the look of the traditional auto mall may change, he said."

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Published on Tuesday, February 23, 2010 in Los Angeles Times
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