GM to open dealership just off Highway 101 

General Motors has purchased 22 acres of property to open a new dealership near Willow Road and U.S. Highway 101.

The sale closed last week for an undisclosed sum of money, according to John Kovaleski, vice president of Colliers International, which brokered the deal.

In an agreement with Menlo Park officials, GM will split sales-tax revenues with the city until vehicle sales top $10 million.

General Motors plans to occupy 8.5 acres of the site and lease or sell the remainder to other car manufacturers or for retail use, according to a report from Dave Johnson, Menlo Park’s business development manager.

GM’s return is good news for Menlo Park, where several dealershipson El Camino Real have abruptly closed in recent years, leaving Stanford Lincoln-Mercury as its sole remaining auto sales shop.

It also comes at a time when General Motors has lost market share to companies such as Toyota — and could be a chance for the company to create a "green auto mall," Mayor Kelly Fergusson said.

"We don’t have any commitments from them for what kinds of cars they’ll carry here, but we’ve been pushing this concept of GM that is a showcase for energy-efficient vehicles," Fergusson said. "Menlo Park is seen as a very ‘green’ city."

Tyco Electronics has occupied an 85-acre site next to Highway 101 since the mid-1960s, but the southernmost 22 acres became surplus property when the company was purchased by Tyco International in September of 1999, according to Spence Lesley, director of site services for Tyco. The electronics manufacturer will continue production on the rest of the site.

Before settling in Menlo Park, General Motors eyed the Century 12 theater East Bayshore property that Redwood City officials hope to transform into a small auto mall, according to Ed Everett, city manager for Redwood City.

"They wanted a similar subsidy [to the one Menlo Park offered] and we said no," Everett said. "We don’t agree with the policy of offering tax rebates, because you can set up a situation where you’re in competition with other cities to attract dealerships."

GM’s decision should not harm Redwood City’s auto-mall plans, which are still in the negotiation phase, officials said.

"Having auto dealerships in adjacent cities is not anything we’d be afraid of," said Pat Webb, economic development director for Redwood City. "They’re all around us. We’re not too concerned about it."

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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