Last dealership leaves DC; WANADAs ODonnell weighs in

Last dealership leaves DC; WANADAês OêDonnell weighs in

The last franchised new-car dealership will soon leave DC, the end of a longtime trend of migration from city to suburb. Residents are moving back to the city, and the Districtês population is growing and becoming wealthier. But for a dealership, taxes and land costs are higher than ever in DC, and itês hard to make the economic case for staying.

Martens Volkswagen, with its sister Volvo store, were the solo dealerships in the District until earlier this year when Volkswagen became Ourisman Volkswagen of Bethesda, which will soon move from DC to the Maryland suburb.

WANADA CEO John OêDonnell, speaking to Automotive News, commented on the flight of dealerships from DC. –The city would very much like to see dealerships return to the District,” he said. –Now how do we get dealers to return when taxes in DC are extremely high? The notion of tax abatements, incentives and deferrals has been loosely discussed without any firm offers made.”

OêDonnell told Automotive News that Mayor Vincent Gray has mentioned that the city controls some property where dealers could store inventory and have a storefront. But the property is not in an ideal location. And the mayor is a lame duck.

OêDonnellês preference: Dealers could have a store in the city to showcase five or six vehicles and keep inventory and parts and service elsewhere. Such, in OêDonnellês view, could be a first step toward the restoration of an era when DC was home to many dealerships — 36, by WANADAês accounting, in 1968.

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