An unused warehouse on Chicago’s North Side moved one step closer Thursday to being transformed into a new Ford dealership after the Chicago Plan Commission approved the project.
The plan almost hit a roadblock when some commission members, starting with Ald. Ed Burke (14th Ward), raised questions about a Hispanic family’s interest in opening another Ford dealership a few miles away.
But the commission ultimately approved the application by Delta Real Estate Holdings LLC, which wants to open a dealership at 2501 N. Elston Ave.
Fox Motor Co. would operate the full-service dealership, known as Fox Ford Lincoln, making it Fox’s first dealership outside of Michigan.
Plans call for a three-story showroom that would replace the temporary Joyce Ford dealership at 2401 S. Michigan Ave.
The 102,000-square-foot dealership would service Ford and Lincoln cars. The building would feature double-level parking; a partial green roof; and clear glass panels.
Behind the dealership would be a pathway along the Chicago River, open to the public during business hours.
The project would create about 200 temporary construction jobs and 17 full-time, permanent jobs with an average annual salary of $66,000, a Fox Motors representative said.
Over a 20-year period, the dealership would generate about $200 million in sales taxes and also lower property taxes for other commercial properties, said a Delta Real Estate representative.
But José Diaz, representing his daughter Christine Diaz and her husband Alejandro Planas, wanted the commission to defer voting on the Fox Motor project. The family said this project could affect their ability to open the city’s first minority-owned Ford dealership about three miles away.
State law prohibits car dealerships from operating within seven miles of each other unless the already open dealership gives its OK for another business, said Roberto Caldero, board member of the Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce of Illinois. If granted permission by Fox Motors, the Diaz family could open their dealership within the seven-mile range, but first the family would have to persuade Ford to grant it a franchise.
“There’s no reason, in our mind, why the two would be mutually exclusive,” said Paul Sajovec, chief of staff for 32nd Ward Ald. Scott Waguespack.
Ald. Waguespack has signed off on the project, which is located in his ward, and wanted the commission to approve it.
Diaz said he has sent Fox Motors and Ald. Waguespack’s office a series of letters detailing his concerns with Ford Motor Co. about whether it supports minority-owned auto dealerships.
A call seeking comment from Ford was not returned.
Caldero said Fox Ford Lincoln opening at the Elston site will block the ability for any minority to own a dealership on the city’s North Side.
The Chicago City Council’s zoning committee could consider the Fox Ford project as early as June 25th. The full city council would also need to give its approval.