GRANGER—Gates Automotive Group is building a used-car dealership and full- service center just west of Between the Buns on Indiana 23 in Granger.
"We have a lot of customers that come from southwest Michigan, northeast Elkhart and Granger," said Matt Helkamp, president and chief executive officer at Gates Chevy World, Mishawaka.
"There are not many places for people in south Michigan to service their car or buy a car. This location will be closer to where they live or on their way to work, so they don't have to go to South Bend, Mishawaka or Elkhart."
The recent improvements in the road and the sewer system also made the location desirable, he said.
Gates is breaking ground at 2 p.m. Friday on a 30,000-square-foot building and a front lot, which will have spaces for around 72 display vehicles.
Workers already are busy removing some trees and buildings from the site. The man who owned the property and his brother, according to urban legend, maintained airstrips, which could explain why the property is so long and narrow, said Helmkamp. Workers even found some sort of aircraft in one of the outbuildings, which they salvaged.
The plans for the new site -- which will carry the "top ten selling" used vehicles in the area -- have been under way for a while, but Gates didn't close on the property until around the beginning of July. Helmkamp said, if things go as planned, the construction will be completed in six to eight months. Though the company hasn't received the final numbers, he said the construction will cost a few million dollars.
The location will be the sixth in the Michiana area and it will add jobs to the company.
"We'll have about 30 employees at this location," Helmkamp said, explaining that the company will hire some new people for the new site and transfer others, whose previous positions will then be filled.
The whole idea behind the project though, he said, is convenience for the customer.
"We are trying to be where our customers are. They may travel to buy a car, but they want service where it's convenient."
Staff writer Alice Culp: