WESLEY CHAPEL — The race for luxury car buyers in Wesley Chapel has a new entrant. BMW plans to open a showroom at State Road 56 and Mansfield Boulevard in the Wiregrass Ranch development.
Preliminary plans filed with Pasco County by Spring Engineering Inc. show a 32,578-square-foot BMW sales and service center proposed for the southeast corner of the SR 56/Mansfield intersection. That puts it across the street and east of the Audi Wesley Chapel dealership that had its grand opening seven months ago.
The property is owned by Solly Branch Holdings Inc., a corporate entity whose officers include J.D. Porter and his sister, Quinn, A car dealership likely would need just a portion of the 39-acre parcel at the intersection. The similarly sized Audi dealership sits on 5.4 acres
BMW will be the fourth luxury car dealership in Wesley Chapel. Mercedes-Benz, Lexus and Audi all have opened since 2015.
"I think they’ve seen the success of Wiregrass and of Wesley Chapel as a whole,’’ said J.D. Porter. whose family is developing its former ranch south of State Road 54 and east of Bruce B. Downs Boulevard.
"It definitely speaks to our economy,’’ said Hope Allen, president and CEO of the North Tampa Bay Chamber. "These dealerships don’t just pop up anywhere. It shows that our economy is strong and that we’re a regional pull.’’
The preliminary plans from Spring Engineering do not identify the dealership’s owner. Likewise, Porter declined to name the dealer. BMW Group U.S. did not respond immediately to an email seeking comment.
Allen said the car dealers’ interest in the area came as no surprise.
"When Mercedes came to town, they said ‘We tend to bring all of the luxury dealers with us.’ The competition is a good thing,’’ she said. "So, when Mercedes made the investment, we knew that others would be coming behind them.’’
Over saturation of the luxury car market is not expected to be an issue.
"Manufacturers do a great deal of due diligence and market study before they enter the market, so I must assume they have great confidence in the success and brand potential of BMW in Wesley Chapel,’’ said Brett Morgan, CEO of Morgan Auto Group.
Morgan Auto Group owns the MINI of Wesley Chapel franchise and other brand dealerships in west Pasco. MINI also is part of the BMW Group, and Morgan said he was disappointed his company wasn’t selected to operate the new BMW dealership in Wesley Chapel.
But, Pasco County, he said "is a wonderful place to own/operate a business. There are pockets of tremendous growth in Pasco, and it has been fun to watch and will be great to be a part of it moving forward.’’
Reach C.T. Bowen at [email protected] or (813) 435-7306. Follow @CTBowen2