Auto dealer’s $5 million expansion underway in Decatur

January 27 — Construction begins on Champion of Decatur’s Jeep Line’s $5 million expansion project. The planning commission chair said the project would benefit the city financially.

The city issued a building permit for the project at 3831 US 31 S. last week. Decatur champion general manager Kevin Allison said the facility will be nearly 30,000 square feet. It will include a showroom and service department for Jeep vehicles, and he hopes construction will be completed by early November.

The new space will be north of Champion’s existing Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram facilities on the west side of US 31. The extension will be south of the Morgan County Health Department.

Champions of Decatur annexed 7.1 acres of land to Decatur a year ago to ensure sewer access. The city council authorized him to extend the sewers from the east side to the west on February 31, at an estimated cost of $300,000 to $350,000.

Planning Commission Chairman Kent Lawrence said the Champion expansion “means income. They came into the city to get the sewers. So now we get the (additional) city sales tax.” would,” he said.

Champion used to charge the city a 0.5% sales tax on cars sold when it was under police jurisdiction just outside the city. City entry doubled tax revenue to 1%.

Allison said the sewers have yet to be expanded, which would require a bore of less than 31, according to Decatur Utilities spokesman Joe Holmes. Pugh Wright McAnally is in charge of the project.

Allison said the dealership will add at least 20 employees to its service, parts, accounting and sales departments as part of the expansion. The Jeff Ham-owned store in Athens currently employs about 40 people.

Dealers sell Chrysler, Dodge, Ram and Jeep at existing Decatur locations. Allison said there are “more models than ever” in Jeep sales, so more space is needed. He said dealers sold about 400 Jeep vehicles last year.

“It’s a great market for Jeep,” Allison said.

He said having a new space dedicated to Jeep has some benefits.

“We will physically park the vehicle and have an open showroom where we can display a range of vehicles.In case of rain or bad weather, we can display it indoors,” he said.

“And we’re going to have a delivery area under the covered porch where we can actually do presentations and show them their new cars….the service department is heated and cooled. This is huge. I Our mechanics will be in a fully thermostatic area, so if it’s hot outside it will be cool and if it’s cold outside it will be warm.”

He said the existing showroom and service department will continue to operate after the expansion is complete.

— or 256-340-2431. Twitter @BruceMcLellan1

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