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  1. Business

Lexus dealership to join Wesley Chapel auto market

Published Apr. 13, 2016

WESLEY CHAPEL — The Williams Automotive Group of Wesley Chapel plans to expand its offerings by adding a Lexus dealership to its existing Toyota and Honda brands.

The company plans to build a 60,000-square-foot Lexus dealership on 8 acres abutting its existing Wesley Chapel Toyota dealership at 5300 Eagleston Blvd., south of State Road 54 and west of Bruce B. Downs Boulevard. Company owners David Williams and his brother John Williams, along with representatives of Spring Engineering, were scheduled to meet with Pasco County planners Tuesday to discuss the proposal.

Construction could begin in the final quarter of 2016, John Williams, company chairman, said in a statement. The final cost had not been determined. The dealership should employ about 100, he said.

The Lexus dealership would be the second luxury line to locate in Wesley Chapel, following the 2015 opening of AutoNation's $17 million Mercedes-Benz Wesley Chapel facility 3 miles to the south on State Road 56.

"I don't think this will be our last one,'' said Hope Allen, president and CEO of the Greater Wesley Chapel Chamber of Commerce.

The area's demographics are helping to lure the luxury car dealerships, with income levels in households within a 5-mile radius of the dealership topping $88,000.

"We have sustainability,'' said Allen. "It shows that as a community we can sustain these brands and we're going to continue to grow. They don't just pop up overnight; there's a lot that goes into choosing a site location.''

The Williams dealership, to be known simply as Lexus of Wesley Chapel, is 22 miles from the nearest Lexus dealership on Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa. The Williams Group prevailed over dealership owners from across the country who submitted proposals to serve the market after Lexus, a division of Toyota Motor Sales, said it wanted to place its luxury brand in Wesley Chapel.

"Our research shows us that customers in the Tampa area (specifically Wesley Chapel) are starved for time, and convenience is very important to them.'' Williams said. "We are building a dealership that ensures both of these needs are not only met, but exceeded.''

Williams Automotive Group, which formed in 2000 as Southeast Automotive Group, operates Wesley Chapel Toyota, Wesley Chapel Honda on Wesley Chapel Boulevard and Tampa Honda on N Florida Avenue in Tampa. The company was honored by the Wesley Chapel chamber as its business leaders of the year in 2015.

The other pending car dealership for Wesley Chapel is a Volks­wagen franchise planned by Scott Fink for State Road 56, just east of Interstate 75. Fink's S&D Giant Real Estate purchased 6 1/2 acres for $4.24 million in two transactions in July 2014 and March 2015. The land includes a little less than 2 acres fronting SR 56, directly across the street from the Mini of Wesley Chapel dealership. The remainder of the property is along Silver Maple Parkway. The company filed its plans for a 22,755-square-foot dealership with Pasco County in August 2015.

Fink also owns Hyundai, Mazda and Chevrolet dealerships along Wesley Chapel Boulevard and a Hyundai dealership along U.S. 19 in west Pasco.

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