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Wesley Chapel attracts Toyota dealership

(ran East edition)

Coming in the spring of 2005, visible from an exit ramp on Interstate 75, will be Wesley Chapel's first Toyota dealership.

The Japanese automaker plans to shoehorn a two-story dealership with an attached 272-space parking lot on 18 acres between the interstate and Village Market shopping center.

The triangular property, part of the same 2,500-acre ranch that became the Seven Oaks community, touches State Road 54 and stretches south along the northbound exit ramp of I-75.

Although the dealership would display some of its cars for sale on SR 54, there will be no full access entrance from the highway.

So most Toyota customers would enter on Bruce B. Downs Boulevard, between Village Market and SouthTrust Bank.

Village Market is the shopping strip anchored by a Winn-Dixie supermarket.

Construction plans show a 45,505-square-foot showroom and offices, a 26,778-square-foot service center and a 20,774-square-foot body shop.

The tentative opening date is May 1.

Toyota is one of several dealerships rolling into Wesley Chapel to take advantage of the suburbanization of the once rural community.

Chevrolet, Nissan, Mazda and Hyundai are among the carmakers that have announced plans to open showrooms on SR 54, Bruce B. Downs Boulevard or State Road 56.

Motorcycle dealers are equally revved for the area's sales prospects. Harley-Davidson and Honda have already pinpointed property on SR 54.

Wesley Chapel Toyota's franchisees include businessman Corvin Morris and Scott Wilkerson, an executive with Lokey, a string of dealerships in Pinellas County.

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