SR council to consider CarMax superstore for auto row

  • Photo provided by City of Santa Rosa
    Artist's rendering of proposed CarMax sales site in Santa Rosa.

Plans for a new used-car superstore on Corby Avenue head to the Santa Rosa City Council on Tuesday for approval of what would be the latest update to the city’s automobile row.

CarMax, the nation’s largest used-car retailer, wants to build a 13,000 square foot used car dealership and car wash on the site of the Hansel Auto Group’s former Prestige Imports dealership.

The project passed the Planning Commission in June on a 5-0 vote despite concern about how the new dealership would impact parking and traffic in the area.

Employees and customers of auto dealers often park on the shoulder along the east side of Corby Avenue and walk across the busy street. The road has no sidewalks on either side because it was designed as and remains a largely drive-to shopping destination.

Planning Commission Peter Stanley, who supports the CarMax project, said he has safety concerns about the traffic and parking patterns.

“I go down there a lot and I see people walking in those lanes and it seems dangerous to me,” Stanley said.

Neighboring dealers are worried, too. They noted that Corby Avenue has no turning lanes which causes traffic backups and the employees who use the dirt shoulder along Highway 101 to park create safety issues for themselves and others.

“We have a city infrastructure here, but we have county roads,” said Jerry Reid, president of Mercedes-Benz of Santa Rosa, which itself built a new showroom several years ago.

CarMax officials convinced planning commissioners, however, that project would not contribute to the traffic or parking issues in the area. They noted that the project will include 176 parking spaces, more than triple what the city requires, and would load and unload trucks on the property, not on the street.

The company pointed out that it will employ 90 employees and that an average CarMax location generates $94 million in revenue annually.

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