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Disappearing dealerships

Submitted by on 1, October 2, 2008 – 10:00 amNo Comment

This week, Alameda’s Good Chevrolet became one of the latest casualties of our nation’s economic crisis, one of three Bay Area car dealerships to shut its doors. Now, our once-bustling Auto Row has just one new car dealership left – Toyota of Alameda – and that’s apparently going to move pretty soon, too.

Folks are saying this couldn’t come at a worse time for Alameda, which is facing multi-million-dollar budget deficits and huge pension liabilities. Says Park Street Business Association chief Robb Ratto: “In the last few years, we lost the number two, number six, number seven and number 13 sales tax producers in the City of Alameda. That is a huge hit.”

The closures have been anticipated as dealerships move away from Main Streets (and let’s face it, Alameda is like the Bermuda Triangle to anyone who doesn’t live here) and into large auto malls with prominent freeway frontage. But the credit crisis precipitated by the crashing housing market and failing financial institutions has accelerated this trend to warp speed, driving smaller dealerships into the dirt. And it doesn’t help that car sales are going through the floor.

Ratto says the closure will hurt other Park Street businesses. He’s optimistic about the city’s strategic plan to redo for its former Auto Row, which should go to the City Council soon. At least one of the former dealership properties – the old Cavanaugh Motors – has been bought by someone who wants to bring more retail to Park Street. Ratto’s hopeful some visionary business owner will find a use for the Good property, though he’s not seeing it now. In the meantime, another 50+ people who used to work at Good are out of work.

For more info on this, check out the posts on http://www.alamedans.com/ (including one by John Knox White, who referenced a CNN article about dealerships’ credit crisis). The Chronicle’s Ryan Kim also has a pretty comprehensive take right here.

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