The dealership, which opened 41 years at its original location on Arlington Expressway, has Stellar building a 59,000-square-foot facility, then renovating the existing dealership and collision center on Atlantic Boulevard.
The future growth Lionel “Eyrie’’ Brooks Jr. envisioned for Arlington Toyota when he opened the original dealership 41 years ago on Arlington Expressway is becoming a reality.
The family-owned dealership, which moved to its current location at 10939 Atlantic Blvd. in 1999, will transform and expand its existing showroom, add a new 59,000-square-foot two-story building with a parking lot, and renovate its existing collision center.
The project is a tribute to Eyrie Brooks, who died in February 2006 at age 69 after a long and courageous battle with cancer.
Today, Arlington Toyota is run by Eyrie’s wife and dealer president, Kay Brooks; daughter and vice president Holly Brooks; and co-owning grandchildren, Brooks and Katherine McCormick.
“We are very excited about the new dealership and look forward to a nice new facility for our customers and employees, and to the future,” said Holly Brooks, while site work was being done behind a windscreen-covered fence on Feb. 25. “My father would be so proud if he were here to see this.”
Brooks McCormick is equally excited.
“As a fourth-generation automobile dealer in the Jacksonville area, I am so excited to get this project under way,” McCormick said. “We have been very strategic in who we’re partnering with on this project, and we’re looking forward to giving our dedicated employees a great place to come to work and serve the community that has been so loyal to us for more than four decades.”
The $14 million total project will be done in two phases, enabling the dealership to maintain its seven-day operation. The first phase will last about a year and includes the construction of the new building and the new parking lot.
The second phase will be the complete renovation of the existing dealership and collision center and will last about six months. The entire process is expected to be completed by August of 2021.
The 18-month process will be handled by Jacksonville based companies. The dealership hired the Stellar Group, partnering with R. Wulbern Architect, P.A. They have teamed up in the past on several First Coast automotive projects.
“The dealership and sales lot will remain open throughout construction, so we will be working closely with the Arlington Toyota staff to eliminate significant impacts to their ongoing operations,” said Scott Wright, project manager at Stellar.
The start of the groundbreaking plans were set into motion on Feb. 3 with the demolition of the retail and office space at the southwest corner of the property, located just east of St. Johns Bluff Road. This will be the site for the new building and parking lot.
The building will add 36 service stalls, a showroom, a customer lounge, a new parts area department and a service drive. There will be 250 parking spaces.
The completion of the new building and parking lot will be followed by the start of the renovation of the dealership’s current 28,385-square-foot building. This includes an updated room for internet sales; a new service training room for employees; an automated car wash; and a larger finance and accounting department.
Currently, the dealership has 27 service stalls that will be updated. However, four of these stalls will be turned into a photo booth, dedicated to taking pictures of the cars for internet sales and marketing. This expansion will add over 10,000 square feet to the existing building.
With a need for more offices, the Arlington Toyota Collision Center will expand and update the offices; concrete floors will also be repolished. The collision center is 17,340 square feet.
“It is going to be great once it is done,” said General Manager Rick Doran, who has been with the dealership for 14 years. “It will be a challenging change for a little while, but everyone seems ready to adapt to it.”
The dealership’s expansion will come with new job opportunities.
“Currently, we have about 250 employees,” Brooks McCormick said. “It is hard to put a number on how many people we will be hiring, but we will definitely need more technicians and general employees.”
Gabrielle Parzygnat: (904) 359-4697