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Dealers spending millions on adding showroom dazzle

Local auto dealers are pouring millions into upgrading facilities, giving showrooms a cutting-edge look to meet automakers’ expectations.

The projects are transforming the dealership landscape. The renovations and newly built facilities emphasize customer comfort, with flat screen TVs and lounges, as well as an appealing working environment for employees. Auto dealers hope the improvements will drive sales and help them retain employees.

• Northtown Automotive has been active in Amherst, pouring $17 million into its new Kia, Mazda and Subaru dealerships on Sheridan Drive. The dealer group is taking advantage of the showrooms’ proximity to Interstate 290 by making the rear of the facilities more visible to motorists on the highway. Northtown has temporarily moved its Hyundai dealership next to its Subaru showroom, while it renovates its Hyundai location down the street.

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• Basil Ford of Niagara Falls expects to finish renovating its Niagara Falls Boulevard showroom by the first week of February and to complete all upgrades to the facility by March. It’s one of several projects the Basil family of dealers has undertaken in recent years, including a new Volkswagen dealership in Lockport and a remodel of Robert Basil Buick GMC Cadillac in Orchard Park. Basil Ford in Cheektowaga converted a former bowling complex into an indoor showroom, and Joe Basil Chevrolet is upgrading a used-car facility in Depew.

• West Herr Automotive Group has carried out several renovations in the past couple of years, improving its facilities for Subaru, Dodge, Chrysler/Jeep, Kia and two Ford locations. In one example, its Ford store in Hamburg added space so that more than 20 people could comfortably wait in the service lounge. The dealer group is set to begin work on its Nissan/Infiniti of Williamsville project during the last quarter of this year or the first quarter of 2018. West Herr plans to start renovating its Jaguar facility in Amherst in the fourth quarter.

• Towne Automotive Group plans to finish its Maserati/Alfa Romeo store in Clarence by June, said Frank Downing Jr., Towne’s president. Across Main Street, a $4 million expansion of its BMW store is underway. New car wash and detail bays will be complete before the end of February, and a lot expansion behind the store is finished. The entire expansion won’t be complete until summer 2018. Meanwhile, Towne was granted a BMW Motorrad franchise, and BMW motorcycles are starting to arrive for sale. In Hamburg, Towne expects to finish renovating its Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram store by March.

•Ray Laks Honda last year moved into a new location on Southwestern Boulevard in Orchard Park.

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