PEABODY — An automobile dealership making its way to Peabody isn’t out of the ordinary.
But two special permit proposals before the City Council Thursday night are a little more high end than the usual request for a used car dealership.
Tesla, the California-based electric car company, wants to bring a dealership to the current Sears Automotive Center building at the Northshore Mall.
Tesla service centers differ from typical automotive sales and services businesses, according to David Ankeles, the Peabody attorney representing Tesla, Inc. before the council. Unlike the traditional automobile manufacturer with a network of dealerships, Tesla sells its vehicles directly to consumers through an online build-to-own model.
“The primary function of Tesla’s service centers are to provide charging, software update, routine maintenance, and new vehicle delivery services for Tesla customers,” Ankeles stated in a letter to the council. “Only Tesla all-electric vehicles are serviced within Tesla service centers. In addition, service centers showcase Tesla vehicles, display sample finishes and trims, provide interactive learning stations where potential customers can learn more about Tesla vehicles, and provide customers an opportunity to design and customize their own Tesla vehicle.”
If approved, Tesla plans a full interior remodel of the Sears Automotive building. According to paperwork filed with the city, the Tesla dealership will employ 10 sales people and 18 service employees.
City Council president Ed Charest said the Tesla dealership looks to be a good proposal to replace the Sears Automotive Center.
“I’m excited about a high-end dealership like this coming to Peabody,” said Charest. “With the talk of Sears closing, that space will be available, and I think the Tesla use will probably be less intense than that of Sears. That we can attract this type of dealership to Peabody is great.”
If you’re looking for a car with a little more oomph than a Tesla, the council is also scheduled to consider a special permit for a Maserati/Alfa Romeo dealership at the former Borders Books building at 151 Andover Street.
Brian Kelly has owned the former Borders property since 2011 and used it for the outdoor storage of approximately 250 motor vehicles.
Kelly currently owns a Maserati/Alfa Romeo dealership in Danvers, but is looking to relocate to Peabody since the Danvers lease is expiring.
A Maserati/Alfa Romeo dealership is an upper scale dealership that currently services an average of 12 to 15 vehicles per day, with an average of two to four interested buyers visiting the site per day, according to paperwork filed with the city.
The special permit from the council is needed because of a planned addition to the rear of the existing building.
“If granted this special permit, Mr. Kelly will be investing another $3.7 million into this site, which is an economic benefit to the entire city, and being a low volume business, it will be unobtrusive to the abutting residential neighborhood,” said Athan Vontzalides, the attorney representing Kelly before the council.