Saturday, June 23, 2018
Business

Pasco enthusiasts welcome Tampa Bay area's second MINI dealership

WESLEY CHAPEL — They call it "the jewel box."

On the second floor of the two-story building, the bay window will do more than add a unique element to the design of the new MINI auto dealership on State Road 56.

It will serve as a place to show off the latest car, 24/7.

"The spotlight on it will really make the car pop," said Malcolm Cheek, general manager of the dealership set to open by the end of March. "It'll be the second one in the country. The other one is in Madison, Wisconsin."

A huge platform on chains raises the car to the spot on the second floor of the seven-car showroom, which, with comfy lounges, Wi-Fi and a boutique, seems more like a hangout than a place to buy a roadster, coupe or a small four-door sedan.

"We want this place to be an experience," said Cheek.

MINI owners are a different breed than other car owners, with clubs and social events for fans of the fun little European cars that used to be known as Mini Coopers. These drivers are known to gobble up merchandise that includes not only car gear, but throw pillows, dog leashes and T-shirts.

"A lot of owners say they can't get accessories," said Cheek. "We're going to have as many as possible right here."

MINI owners have been very enthusiastic about the soon-to-open dealership, which will be the second in the Tampa Bay area. One member of the Sunshine Minis group even posted a video of Wesley Chapel MINI's ground breaking ceremony last year.

The closest dealer now is Ferman on U.S. 19 in Palm Harbor. Others nearest to Pasco are in Orlando and Fort Myers.

The Wesley Chapel dealership already has been the site of club meetings and hosted owners for a breakfast on the way to a state MINI picnic in Ocala.

The dealership is being built by businessman Victor Young, a BMW dealer who in February opened a Lamborghini dealership in Sarasota; and partner Larry Morgan, who owns Toyota of Tampa Bay on Fletcher Avenue in Tampa as well as two Honda dealerships in Ocala and Gainesville.

Young said in 2010 that the pair picked Wesley Chapel after market studies showed more than 2,000 MINI owners lived in an area that stretched from central Pasco to Brandon.

Cheek said he has already talked to one owner who was considering replacing her MINI with another make of car but changed her mind when she learned she would be able to have her car serviced much closer to home.

"Service won't have to be an all-day affair," Cheek said.

The dealership features bays with tile that looks like brick pavers and black and gray walls. The ceiling shows off the duct work and lights, a reflection of MINI's open industrial design.

An alignment machine is the latest technology that can diagnose a problem in three minutes. Most machines take about 15, Cheek said.

Customers can choose from three lounges, including one with no television.

"That's the quiet room," Cheek said. "For people who really want to get their work done."

Comments
Making the case for more drones

Making the case for more drones

BLACKSBURG, Va. - They considered how well everyone slept the night before. They considered the chances a military jet might scream by on a training mission. They considered the farmer in the field.Then they considered some more.After making it throu...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Tampa Bay workforce development initiative looks to Houston for lessons

Tampa Bay workforce development initiative looks to Houston for lessons

The biggest hospitals in Houston had a problem.To earn a prized institutional certification, they needed more nurses with bachelor of science degrees in nursing.But local colleges were more focused on turning out nurses with two-year degrees who, to ...
Published: 06/22/18
Health care IT company CareSync shuts down, laying off 292

Health care IT company CareSync shuts down, laying off 292

TAMPA — The days ahead were supposed to be bright.For weeks, the future of health care tech company CareSync had been thrown into question as founder and CEO and founder Travis Bond unexpectedly departed, kicking off multiple rounds of layoffs. But t...
Published: 06/22/18
Coal and gas hold onto their share of electricity production, despite massive push for renewables

Coal and gas hold onto their share of electricity production, despite massive push for renewables

Here’s an intriguing set of facts: Coal produces the same percentage of the world’s electricity as 20 years ago. Oil and gas remain about level, too.Same for nonfossil fuel sources. In other words, the massive push towards renewables over the past co...
Published: 06/22/18
Brink: Why have Florida’s working-age men left the labor market in droves

Brink: Why have Florida’s working-age men left the labor market in droves

A cancer lurks within Florida’s otherwise rosy job numbers, one that’s been called a quiet catastrophe and an intractable time bomb.Too many men between the ages of 25 and 54 have stopped working.Economists call those the prime-age years. Incomes gen...
Published: 06/22/18
Pride divided no more: St. Pete Pride comes back together

Pride divided no more: St. Pete Pride comes back together

ST. PETERSBURG — The 16th annual St. Pete Pride Parade is getting ready to march along the downtown waterfront the second straight year. But many hope to move past the division caused last year when the parade was uprooted from its original hom...
Published: 06/22/18
For sale: A Tampa Bay area elementary school where you can eat tacos and buy wine

For sale: A Tampa Bay area elementary school where you can eat tacos and buy wine

ST. PETERSBURG — For sale: a 104-year-old elementary school with restaurant and wine shop. It even has a title company where you can close the deal.Less than a year after completing a major renovation of the historic North Ward school, developer Jona...
Published: 06/22/18
Domain Homes: Buyers love them, some others don’t

Domain Homes: Buyers love them, some others don’t

TAMPA — When the 2008 financial crash brought down the nation’s housing market, hundreds of home builders went out of business. Among them was Sharon McSwain Homes in Atlanta, forced to liquidate in 2009.But just as developers like to develop, builde...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Armature Works developers sue Ulele and city of Tampa over use of nearby building

Armature Works developers sue Ulele and city of Tampa over use of nearby building

TAMPA — Two of the city’s hottest developers — the companies behind Ulele and the Armature Works — are heading to court over control of an old city building that sits between the hit eateries. Both want to redevelop the city&...
Published: 06/21/18
Orlando airport first to scan faces of U.S. citizens on international flights

Orlando airport first to scan faces of U.S. citizens on international flights

Associated PressFlorida’s busiest airport is becoming the first in the nation to require a face scan of passengers on all arriving and departing international flights, including U.S. citizens, according to officials there. The expected announcement T...
Published: 06/21/18