A full-fledged car dealership is apparently out of the question right now, so would you believe a car storage lot for the former Borders Books & Music property?
Brian Kelly of Kelly Automotive Group and attorney Athan Vontzalides appeared before the City Council on Thursday to seek approval of a special permit to store vehicles there that would be excess inventory from Kelly's existing dealerships or simply give him space to take advantage of a special bulk sale on a 100 cars or so.
The storage lot would also prove helpful if Mother Nature dumped a ton of snow during the winter or if a dealership was rehabbed or redeveloped.
The proposal easily won support from the council, which was glad to see Kelly moving forward a plan for the property at 151 Andover St.
Councilor Anne Manning-Martin did, however, vote against it because there was no corresponding report from the on the petition, as there usually is for special permit requests. Councilors felt it might have been an oversight, but made it conditional of their approval that the police sign off on the project as well.
Manning-Martin said she wanted to hear the department's thoughts on switching from a bookstore to a car lot, and did not express any further concerns on the matter.
Kelly told Peabody Patch after the meeting that he is not pursuing any plans at this point to turn the property into a FIAT dealership, . His current FIAT location is just up the road in Danvers at 75 Andover St.
Kelly said the motor vehicle industry isn't in the right place right now for him to move the dealership there and indicated the potential sales wouldn't justify the investment for him now. He's still not ruling out the possibility for the future.
Kelly said part of the decision is also not having access to or ownership of the right franchises now, but did not elaborate further on what other franchises he might like to have there.
"When I have plans, the whole world will know," he said, adding his thanks for what he felt were the deliberations of a "pro-business" council.
Between 150 and 175 cars would be stored on the lot at any given time and the existing two-story building would remain. There would be no use of a car carrier or tractor-trailer to move cars -- all vehicles would be driven on the lot individually.
Kelly said up to six cars might be delivered or removed at one time from the site; he isn't planning for constant activity at the site. Operating hours would be Monday to Sunday, 8 a.m. - 8 p.m.
The council did impose a number of conditions on the permit, which Ward 3 Councilor Rico Mello said Kelly and Vontzalides had already agreed with neighbors on. Those conditions include such things as no access from the site onto Loris Road, outdoor lights will be turned off at 11 p.m., no outdoor music or a PA system and no deliveries or trash pickup overnight.
Council President James Liacos, noting he lives off the other side of Route 114 near the , asked Kelly what his plans were for the empty Cross Street lot -- the old home of North Shore Lincoln-Mercury.
Kelly said there's nothing definite yet -- he doesn't have the right franchises that he would like to put there.
The Peabody Borders closed its doors last year amid bankruptcy filings by the parent company Borders Group Inc.