Tallmadge -- Park Ford plans to invest about $1.7 million in a renovation and expansion project that will both upgrade its facility and streamline it with its corporate brand.
Construction on the 31,000-square-foot building at 400 West Ave. should start sometime this month and be completed by July of next year.
"We are adding on [an indoor] service drive, and we're renovating the whole facility inside. We're going to the new Ford standard," said Mike Iemma, owner of the dealership.
The outdoor service drive that is uncovered will gain a roof.
"We'll have service advisers right there at the car ...," he added. "The customer is going to pull up to a garage. The garage is going to open, and they're going to be able to pull their car right in and get out. It will be really nice and convenient for them."
Plans for the project also call for remodeling the showroom and enlarging the restrooms.
"Our showroom will be completely transformed," Iemma said.
The customer waiting area will be expanded, and customers can use the dealership's wireless Internet while they wait. The children's playroom will be made more "kid friendly" as well, he said.
The project will add 4,000 square feet to the facility, most of which is for the new service drive.
Iemma said the exterior will be renovated to become more in line with Ford Motor Co.'s brand standards and will be finished with aluminum panels and metal corrugated siding.
"Ford has a new design standard. It's beautiful," he said. "It really is, and I'm not just saying that."
He said Ford is encouraging its franchisees to make their dealerships more recognizable to customers with these optional projects.
Having owned Park Ford for 12 years, Iemma said it's the "right time" to take on the project.
"You're going to see some [Ford dealerships] renovate and some not. We just want to choose to get it done," he said. "We've been here, we want to stay here and continue to do business here. And we want it to look like a modern dealership."
The dealership will remain open throughout the construction.
Park Ford employs 61 workers and intends to hire between five and 10 more part- and full-time employees by the time the project is completed, mostly to work in management positions throughout the dealership.
"We're going to hire some people. We need to definitely fill some holes here," Iemma said.
He said other than regular maintenance and repairs, the structure of the dealership has remained unchanged since it was built 45 years ago.
The building originally was home to Fred Goddard Ford, and decades later Mark Ford operated from it. Iemma bought the real estate and the dealership business in 2001, and last year, he bought out his partners to become the sole owner.
"Back 45 years ago, this was a state-of-the-art dealership; it was the dealership of the future," he said. "It made some magazine covers back then about how the dealerships of the future were going to look ... We need to get that back again, which we're planning on."
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