New Dealership Design Enhances Buyer Experience

Credit: City of Tempe

By Adrienne St. Clair for Arizona Builder’s Exchange

Precision Fleet Services has a proposal before the City of Tempe to build a new office and car dealership at the intersection of 3rd Street and Smith Road.

The Tempe-based auto sales company hopes to build their new corporate office on 3.69 acres in the heart of one of Tempe’s main industrial areas. The site is currently undeveloped and is being used to store cars.

The project, which consists of both a two-story office building and a three-story parking structure, will total 266KSF. The office building will be approximately 14KSF of the total square footage, while the parking garage/warehouse will be 252KSF. The majority of the structure will be enclosed, though there will also be parking on the rooftop.

The site is bordered on the north by Rio Salado Drive and on the south by University Drive. The Loop 101 runs to the east of the property and McClintock Drive runs to the west. The primary entry for the new development will be from Smith Road.

The property is currently designated as General Industrial District. There is no need to change the zoning for the Precision Fleet Services project, but the developer is requesting a PAD overlay in order to increase the building height from 35 feet to 55 feet. This request was made as part of a revised proposal submitted just a few weeks after the original proposal, which was approved by the city.

The proposal boasts the new project will be a “state-of-the-art facility.” The sales office will be connected to the parking garage, which will house the vehicles for sale. The seamless attachment between the office and the parking garage is meant to improve the car-buying experience, which is the project’s stated main goal.

“The primary goal of this facility is to provide an enhanced car-buying experience within an affordable environment,” according to documents to submitted to the city.

The proposal stated much of the parking garage will be visible from the sales office, allowing customers and sales staff to talk about preferences from the comfort of the indoors. Maintenance and repairs for the cars will be done at an offsite location.

Online car vendors like Carvana are pushing dealerships to rethink the way they do business. As part of its branding and appeal, Carvana uses multilevel “vending machines” in some areas to allow buyers to take possession of newly-purchased vehicles. The company opened its first Arizona vending machine near Loop 202 and Scottsdale Road in June.

“The shift toward online car-buying and other innovative options reveals that consumers are less interested in being sold a car and more interested in quickly buying — or renting — a car without the traditional sales pressure,” the dealership-focused website DealerRefresh stated. It recommends dealers lose the pressure and adapt to customers’ changing buying preferences.

Precision Fleet Services’ building design includes concrete tilt panels, glass and stucco over steel framed stud walls. The overall design will incorporate the company’s branding. While the building will be in line with the industrial design of the area, the owner claims the development will stand out among the surrounding structures, which are mostly concrete masonry and metal buildings.

“The provided materials will achieve design details of interest while still being durable and appropriate to the building use,” the proposal stated.

According to city documents, the proposal complies with the general plan for the City of Tempe, as well as the criteria for the NE Industrial Area within the Apache Character Area Plan. The developer notes one major benefit of the project is that it “is taking a fleet of cars spread over two large lots and condensing them into one state-of-the-art facility consolidated on a single lot. Thus, creating additional, multi-use re-development in the future.”

Construction is slated to start near the end of this year.

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