SOUTH PORTLAND — Owners of three coastal Maine auto dealerships plan to spend $15 million to grow the businesses.
South Portland’s Yankee Ford will get a $4 million makeover, Tucker Ford will move from Brunswick to Topsham in a $6 million project, and Rockland Ford will get an expanded building worth $5 million.
Priority Real Estate Group of Topsham is the contractor for all three jobs.
Managing partner Bob Esposito of Portland said the company will add 15-20 employees to the South Portland dealership and is now hiring. He said about 15 positions will be added at each of the other dealerships.
The three businesses are mostly owned by Esposito and majority partner Stephen Goodrich.
Esposito was previously vice president of sales and marketing at all three businesses. He and Goodrich purchased the three dealerships a year ago.
Esposito, 55, who is also the general manager at Yankee Ford, said there is little land to expand at 165 Waterman Drive, so the South Portland dealership will get higher.
He said renovations in three phases will add a second floor and ultimately change the look of the building. The service department will also grow to 18 bays from 14.
During the first phase, the showroom will be torn down and rebuilt with two stories. In the interim, the showroom and offices will be moved to the separate Yankee Economy used-car building. Esposito said that building was previously a Honda showroom before becoming a Ford store in 1984. The Economy building will later be torn down.
“It is our goal to put a shovel into the ground this year,” Esposito said.
The second phase will be renovations at the service department, adding approximately 6,000 square feet.
During stage three, the outside of the building will be revised and a small display showroom on the rear of the building will be added that will be visible from the Casco Bay Bridge.
Esposito also said they would like to build a two-tier parking deck at the same elevation as the bridge approach.
Esposito said 17 acres next to the Topsham Fair Mall have been purchased with plans for a two-story, 25,000-square-foot Tucker Ford dealership.
The new dealership will have 14 service bays, three bays for heavy trucks, a built-in car wash and a 2,500-square-foot showroom.
He said plans have been submitted to the town, and he hopes construction will begin in the next two months. Esposito said it’s possible the new dealership will be in business by Christmas, although that might be optimistic.
The existing Tucker Ford, on Pleasant Street in Brunswick, will be closed.
Brunswick Town Manager John Eldridge said, “We hate to see any business leave Brunswick, but we’re confident that the space will be redeveloped.”
Alison Harris, chairwoman of Brunswick Town Council, said businesses have always moved back and forth across the Androscoggin River between Brunswick and Topsham, and while this may be a short-term loss for Brunswick, in the “long term, the jobs and the revenue is staying in the region.”
Esposito said construction will begin about one month after the Topsham project at Rockland Ford.
The plan is for a 20,000-square-foot dealership to be built behind the dealership at 165 New County Road in Thomaston. The 4,700-square-foot building now on site will be leveled and paved when the new facility is completed.
The new building will have 10 service bays, up from four. Esposito said they will will probably have a body shop, too.
During construction, he said, the dealership will lease space from a nearby Lowe’s Home Improvement to store cars.
Esposito said the business is working closely with Ford Motor Co., which has specifications that must be met at all three dealerships. They will receive $750,000 from Ford for each of the three buildings.
Esposito said they are also making energy-efficient changes at the dealerships.
“We are looking to be as self-sufficient as possible,” he said. “… It is important to keep the environment in mind. We are going to do (construction) with a green thumb attached.”
Some of the improvements will include solar panels, heating systems that run on reclaimed engine oil, LED lighting and a mostly paperless system in the office.
Esposito said they are already using one of the new heating systems for part of the building at Yankee Ford, and have not had to turn on auxiliary heat in that section of the building. It runs on the used engine oil removed from customers’ vehicles during oil changes.
“We will be a very green facility,” Esposito promised.
General Manager Bob Esposito behind the wheel at Yankee Ford in South Portland. Esposito is also managing partner of the dealership and two others in Brunswick and Rockland.
Yankee Ford, at 165 Waterman Drive in South Portland.
A depiction of what the Yankee Ford in South Portland will look like from the Casco Bay Bridge after renovations are made to the building.