AUBURN — Doug Weisz asked his Evergreen Subaru staff last week to knock off work early and board a chartered bus to the future.

After a roundabout cruise, they ended up a mile from the Center Street dealership at the home of the former Best Buy store.

Weisz on Friday closed on the sale of the shuttered big-box store and dirt lot next to it for a massive new dealership with 20 lifts, room to house all of his employees under one roof, and hire more, and get customers in for service visits more quickly.

“This whole thing is really based on the needs of our service customers,” said Weisz. “We don’t currently have enough capacity to meet demand. The worst thing I can tell a customer is, ‘I need to make an appointment in a week.'”

He had been exploring ways to expand on Center Street for years when he saw the vacant store in mid-August and realized it had everything he was looking for. Early plans call for construction to begin in the spring and for the dealership to move over in 2020.

As recently as May, Weisz had asked the city to consider rezoning  two lots and discontinuing a nearby street to expand in place.

Advertisement

The former Best Buy at 649 Turner St., which closed last October, is 20,000 square feet, all of which is going to be used for parts and service. He’ll start working with an architect this fall to design a 10,000- to 15,000-square-foot addition to the front of the building for sales, a showroom, a waiting room, and administrative and conference space.

Right now, nine of Evergreen Subaru’s 50 employees work off-site because there’s no room at 774 Center St.

“When we do a complete restoration on a used car or you come in and want your car detailed, we take it up the road to do it,” Weisz said. “We only built eight bays in this store. It was an appropriate size in 2004 when we planned it. Unfortunately, it’s no longer adequate for what we need.”

Construction is projected to take 12 to 18 months. He declined to reveal the cost of the project.

Weisz said the dealership may grow by 10 to 15 people with the move.

“We’re committed to this market,” Weisz said. “This was a big move — I had to think a lot about the fact we were leaving Center Street to go there, but going more than a mile was never in the cards.

Advertisement

“I’m just focused on transitioning from that empty big box to making a world-class Subaru store,” he added. “We think we’ll have one of the biggest Subaru stores in the Northeast.”

[email protected]

Evergreen Subaru will be moving into the former Best Buy at 649 Turner St. in Auburn. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

Evergreen Subaru employees learned last week the dealership would be moving a mile down the road to the former Best Buy at 649 Turner St. in Auburn. (Submitted photo)

[googlemaps https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m16!1m12!1m3!1d6645.2810129597265!2d-70.22387112386656!3d44.12545763833954!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!2m1!1sbest+buy+near+Auburn%2C+ME!5e1!3m2!1sen!2sus!4v1539375518859&w=100%&h=600]


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.