Ford plans Columbia's first car dealership COLUMBIA

August 25, 1993|By Adam Sachs | Adam Sachs,Staff Writer

As construction workers laid cinder block and bulldozed sunbaked earth, Ford Motor Co. representatives led county officials and business leaders yesterday on a hard-hat tour of the site of Columbia's first auto dealership.

Managers of Apple Ford, as the dealership will be known, showed visitors the future locations of the service center, the paint and body shops, quick lube center and showroom. The planned 62,000-square-foot facility currently is a vast open space framed by walls still under construction.

Apple Ford President George Doetsch said the dealership will push for high standards of customer service and a "stress-free" sales environment.

"We want everyone that deals with this dealership to have a pleasant experience, not just with the purchase but with the service afterward," said Mr. Doetsch, who plans to close his Baltimore dealership, Monument Ford, to concentrate on the Columbia business, which is slated to open by December.

The dealership also plans to become involved in community activities and organizations, he said.

County Executive Charles I. Ecker said he was pleased that a Ford dealership had chosen to locate in Columbia. Ford Motor Credit, the auto manufacturers' collection and customer service administration, moved to the county last year.

The Apple Ford site, off Snowden River Parkway near Route 175 in east Columbia, is in a region originally planned for industrial development. Instead, it has blossomed recently as a retail center.

Across the street from the planned Apple Ford is the Snowden Square center, which features BJ's Wholesale Club and Hechinger Home Project Center, high-volume retail outlets. The Snowden Square site was formerly part of a General Electric Corp. industrial park, a manufacturing center that was never completed.

The Rouse Co. sold the land where Apple Ford is being constructed to Western Electric in the 1970s, but Western Electric never built a facility or developed the property, said Ed Ely, Rouse Co. director of land sales and marketing.

An auto dealership "satisfies a need," Mr. Ecker said. "We did have plans for other things, but you have to change for changing times."

The Rouse Co. was unsuccessful in several attempts to develop an auto park in Columbia over the last two decades. Mr. Doetsch said he is negotiating with two other auto manufacturers to possibly create a small auto park at the Columbia Corporate Park site.

Apple Ford will employ about 120, with about half coming from Monument Ford, Mr. Doetsch said.

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