So many cars travel along U.S. Highway 278 that the 200 Covington Ford cars being moved to a new dealership on the Covington ByPass Road may have been lost in the flow. The empty lot that was left behind, however, is a little harder to miss.
Covington Ford moved nearly all its vehicles Friday to its recently completed window-laden, environmentally-friendly dealership on the bypass. The dealership will have its soft opening Monday, with a grand opening scheduled for the first week of September.
The building took almost exactly one year to complete, and the only possible hang up is getting AT&T to extend internet and phone service to the building in time.
The move is seen as doubly beneficial to the community because it clears out an eyesore on U.S. 278, while making the ByPass Road corridor more attractive for future development.
Last year, owner Wendell Crowe said he chose the new location because it fit within his budget and met Ford Motor Criteria's requirements for dealerships, including a sufficient traffic count. He and Ford believe there the area is ripe for future development.
Sales Manager Sammy Padgett echoed those thoughts Friday, pointing to the road widening at the intersection of Ga. Highway 142 and U.S. 278, as well as the banks and restaurants that have moved to the area in the past several years.
"We think it will be a main drag," Padgett said.
As far as leaving the current 50-year-old location, Crowe has been frank, calling it an eyesore.
"We couldn't do anything to make this building look good. We need our lot to catch three-fourths of the eye on the road. Here people can't tell the difference between new cars, used cars or employee's cars," Crowe said last year.
The ByPass Road location will offer plenty of possibility for expansion if needed, something the U.S. 278 couldn't provide. The 11.5-foot wide parking spaces allow cars to be shown off much easier than standard 9.5-foot spaces.
The 25,000 square foot building will be LEED certified, a third-party certification program run by the U.S. Green Building Council and the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings. It will be the first LEED-certified Ford dealership in the nation, Padgett said.
The building used recycled content for flooring and low chemical content paints and has high-efficiency LED interior light fixtures, recycling stations for customers and employees, low flow toilets and no-flow urinals.
The building's greywater - used non-sewage water - will be used to water the site's plants, Padgett said.
The service shop is equipped with a system where car exhaust pipes are connected to ducts that send fumes from running cars outside through the roof. Along with special fast-moving service doors, the exhaust system will keep the service area cooler, reducing the amount of air conditioning needed.
It's also going to provide a much nicer experience for the employees.
"(The old building had been) expanded three times. It doesn't flow, it has small bathrooms, no employee lounge," Padgett said. "We have room here; it's a nice place to be. We're not on top of each other, and we'll be able to find stuff. We won't have to dig to find files. It will just be a lot nicer."
Walgreens to replace old dealership
Once Covington Ford is completely moved out, Anchor Properties will begin demolition of the dealership and the old Shell gas station, said Michael Ricke, Anchor's executive vice president in a recent email.
Anchor Properties will lease the land to Walgreens, which he said will be open by summer 2012.