New use for Gregg Motors site
BY BOB OKON firstname.lastname@example.org July 24, 2013 5:02PM
The former Gregg Motors site, vacant since 2010, will reopen as a used car dealership if the Joliet City Council approves a special use permit needed for the plan. | Photo by Bob Okon~Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 26, 2013 4:22PM
A used-car dealer wants to reopen the former Gregg Motors site on Jefferson Street.
The former Lincoln-Mercury dealership closed in 2010 as Ford Motor Co. consolidated retail outlets. It was the last new car dealership on Jefferson Street east of Larkin Avenue.
The spot is still a good place to sell cars, said Mazhar R. Bhatti, who wants to open Your Choice Auto Sales there by October.
“It’s close to the highway and in the middle of the city,” Bhatti said. “That can attract local buyers. And, it can attract buyers from the state and out of state.”
Bhatti now has four used-car dealerships in Markam, Posen, Glenwood and Crestwood.
He plans to open in Joliet with 10 employees and 150 cars and hopes to build the business to as many as 400 cars.
This would be the second conversion of a former new-car dealership on Jefferson Street to a large used car business. The former Bert Adams Pontiac is now a Car Outlet.
D’Arcy Motors at one time was located next to Gregg Motors. But D’Arcy moved the Buick-GMC dealership to a larger site on Essington Road in 2005 and acquired Bert Adams’ Pontiac franchise the next year. The former D’Arcy site now is home to a Bank of America branch.
The changes reflect a shift in the new car business to larger, multi-brand dealerships. Meanwhile, used-car dealers have been moving into bigger locations.
Bhatti said the Joliet business, at 1506 W. Jefferson St., “will be our largest location because of its size.” He plans to run service and parts departments in addition to having a large inventory of cars. All of that is made possible by the facility previously used for a new car dealership.
The Joliet Zoning Board of Appeals last week approved a special use permit for Bhatti’s dealership.
The permit next goes to the city council for approval at its Aug. 5 and 6 meetings.
The special use permit was needed after the property stopped being used for a car business for 180 days, said Joliet planner Jim Torri.
Torri said he visited three of Bhatti’s other dealerships and found they were “clean operations.” “What he’s proposing is nothing different from what the business operated as before,” he said.
Bhatti plans to add landscaping to the property and repaint the buildings.
He’s no stranger to Joliet, having worked as a cashier and manager at a gas station on South Chicago Street about 10 years ago. Bhatti has been in the car business for five years. He also has friends and family with businesses in Joliet.
“I have worked very hard,” Bhatti said. “I try to give the best deals to the customers and keep them happy and build the business by word of mouth. There are a lot of repeat customers. There’s always room to grow.”