But, in a twist on that sort of car hunt, a garage man also did a tour all around Cork city, over two long years, in a bid to find a spot to build his new multi-million euro car showrooms, forecourt and service bays.
Now, John Lehane has finally found what he was looking for, on the Airport Hill/Kinsale Road, being geared up for a €2-3m investment.
John Lehane, second generation in the motor business with a 25-year Toyota marque link in Macroom, is now also the holder of Cork city’s Toyota and Lexus franchises. He put out a call, and went on a hunt, for a new showrooms and service base in June 2012 when he added Cork to his Macroom/mid-Cork Toyota franchise, during a period of much change among long-established dealerships.
Back then, he leased the former Wilton Motors property in the city’s western suburbs (due now to be replaced by a new Aldi supermarket,) but only on a short-term basis.
Next, Mr Lehane motored some months ago — again on a temporary basis — to the South Douglas Road, to the old Kevin O’Leary garage site after the Audi franchise there moved to the start of the Bandon Road, in a building that previous had been Heaton Buckley builders providers.
Finally, a new, permanent home for Lehanes’ Cork Toyota and Lexus business has been secured. Mr Lehane has bought a former retail warehouse of 22,000 sq ft, plus an adjacent acre, just above Hanleys garden centre at the Kinsale Road Roundabout, in a deal negotiated via estate agent Sam Kingston, representing two different vendors at the location.
Mr Lehane paid over the €850,000 guide, possibly closer to €900,000, for the existing warehouse building which also has a 15,000 sq ft internal mezzanine: previously it was occupied for a period by E-Z Living, and before that by A&F O’Leary: it last sold in 2006 for €5m.
As well as the c €900,000 plus warehouse purchase, Lehanes have also paid c €350,000 for the extra necessary acre, to be used as a forecourt. Access to two other buildings alongside, also developed on this site by Descon, will be around the perimeter of this site.
The Toyota/Lexus business has already held pre-planning discussions with planners, and also has approached the NRA in advance of lodging for planning permission for changes, to include a glazed showroom facade.
Internally the building will house showrooms for both Toyota and Lexus, as well as up to 16 service bays. Adaptation and fit-out will cost an estimated further €1.5m, on top of the c €1.25m spent on the two acquired properties.
Employment at Lehanes currently stands at 23, and this is likely to rise to 40 in the completed development, buoyed by a strong recovery in the car sales market. That market is now running 30% up on last year’s figures, after a 25% increase in 2014 — but, all off a much-lowered base during the downturn.
Casey and Kingston 021-4271127