AutoNation revives interest in Md. Anne Arundel would get outlet of used-car dealer

Auto sales

November 07, 1997|By Ted Shelsby | Ted Shelsby,SUN STAFF

Anne Arundel County is back in the running for a used-car superstore and an auto restoration center to be built by AutoNation USA, the second-hand auto seller launched by Florida billionaire H. Wayne Huizenga, a county official said yesterday.

William Badger, director of the county economic development office, said AutoNation has expressed a new desire to build the two facilities in Anne Arundel, provided it receives the necessary permits.

"They are telling us they want to come, they just need an air quality permit," Badger said. "They have told us that if we get the air permit and the county [construction] permit, it's a go."

That would be good news for the region.

The two facilities, which could employ up to 560 workers, would be one of the largest new employers in the county in more than a decade.

"These are not $5-an-hour jobs," said Badger. "They are what we call family supporting jobs. A big chunk of them are in the $20,000- to $40,000-a-year range."

AutoNation officials were not available for comment yesterday.

Last week, Marc Cannon, a company spokesman said that AutoNation had not made a final decision on a site for its reconditioning plant, which is expected to provide 210 to 400 jobs.

He said that the company was still considering locations in the Baltimore area, but was also looking at the Philadelphia and Wilmington, Del., area.

The reconditioning plant would be like a giant garage that would prepare used cars for resale. A state air quality permit is needed because the facility would have a paint shop.

Badger said he has been working with the Maryland Department of the Environment in obtaining a permit and "it could be coming very shortly."

He said the construction permits, which are needed before work could begin on both the used car retail lot and the reconditioning plant, are expected to be approved by the end of the year or early in 1998.

The retail lot would stock between 1,000 to 1,200 vehicles and be located on a 17-acre site in the Cromwell Business Park off Dorsey Road near Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

The reconditioning center would be located in the Marley Neck Industrial Park, off Fort Small Wood Road, close to the city.

AutoNation first announced plans for the two facilities in January. It was contingent upon the General Assembly's repeal of blue laws that prohibit auto dealers in the county from opening on Sunday.

When the General Assembly did not repeal the laws, AutoNation put its plan for Maryland on hold and said that it was looking at sites in Pennsylvania and Delaware.

Badger said yesterday that Anne Arundel County Executive John G. Gary is "very supportive" of blue laws repeal and will be working with legislators in the next session to have the laws changed.

Pub Date: 11/07/97

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