Spokane Journal of Business

Land Rover dealership mulls move

SUV store experiments with temporary presence at former Saturn facility

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A Bellevue, Wash.-based company that bought the assets of Land Rover Spokane last fall is considering moving the high-end sport-utility vehicle dealership from Liberty Lake to downtown Spokane.

We just need to get into the mainstream of business. Were just too far off here at Liberty Lake, says Manuel Ormaechea, the dealerships general manager.

Land Rover Spokane recently set up a temporary satellite locationcomplete with large banners and several Land Rover modelson the former Saturn of Spokane dealership property at 1007 W. Second to gauge public response.

Although the banners declare the dealership is Coming soon! Ormaechea said last week, Were just experimenting to see what would happen if we had a site downtown. Were on a 10-day trial period.

He said the dealerships owner, J&L Holdings Inc., is considering leasing the Saturn property, but that a decision on whether to move the Land Rover dealership there might not occur right away. Theres a lot of different things I have to study before such a decision is made, he says.

Saturn of Spokanes former 11,700-square-foot building and adjoining property became vacant earlier this year when Barton Auto Dealerships Inc., of Spokane, moved the dealership across the street into a larger building at 1002 W. Second. There are several other auto dealerships within a several-block radius there, including Downtown Honda, Downtown Toyota/Lexus of Spokane, and Sutherland Motors Ltd., the local Mercedes-Benz dealer.

Whether or not Land Rover Spokane finds the downtown site suitable, the relocation of the 4-year-old dealership, which J&L bought last Aug. 1 from Seattle auto dealer Biff Brotherton and employs 12 people, appears likely. Ormaechea says J&Ls lease of the Liberty Lake facility from Brotherton expires in 12 to 14 months, and the company wants to secure a new locationpreferably in the downtown areabefore then.

Brotherton developed the Liberty Lake facility, which includes an 8,600-square-foot dealership building and an adjoining demonstration track where customers can test drive vehicles over varying terrain, on a 2.5-acre site at 23221 E. Knox in 1998. At the time, Brotherton also owned Land Rover Seattle; Land Rover East Side, in Bellevue; Frederick Cadillac, in Seattle; and Lexus of Seattle.

Ford Motor Co. acquired Land Rover, of Solihull, England, in July 2000, making it part of Fords Premier Automotive Group, which also includes Jaguar, Aston Martin, Volvo, and Lincoln. Land Rovers three 2002 modelsthe Freelander, Discovery, and the Range Roverrange in suggested retail price from about $25,600 to $72,000.

U.S. Land Rover dealers reported record May sales of 3,003 units, up 26 percent, the seventh month in a row of record Land Rover sales. Year-to-date, Land Rover sales were 14,657, up 54 percent compared with a year ago.

Kim Crompton
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