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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Nov. 14, 201707:00 AM EST

EchoPark Automotive may join Atlantic Boulevard auto strip

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Subsidiary of one of nation’s largest car sellers in talks for property near CarMax.

EchoPark Automotive wants to develop a used-car dealership along Atlantic Boulevard two lots east of CarMax, with an Audi dealership between them, public records show.

EchoPark is a subsidiary of Sonic Automotive Inc. of Charlotte, North Carolina. 

Sonic Development LLC wants to buy property from Sleiman Enterprises to build the dealership, which will be about 24,000 square feet and feature 634 parking spaces. It also will build a car wash for its vehicles.

Applications for Mobility Fee Calculation and Concurrency Reservation certificates show the dealership on 6.4 acres of an almost 9-acre site. The fee is assessed to mitigate transportation impacts.

Marti Eulberg, director of brand management for Sonic Automotive and EchoPark Automotive, said by email Monday that “at this point we do not have comment.”

 Proposed site improvements filed with the city show the master stormwater design at the property would serve the development of three parcels of 3, 6 and 8.5 acres. 

There is vacant property east of the EchoPark site that ends with Sleiman’s Atlantic North shopping center at Kernan and Atlantic boulevards.

Sleiman is negotiating to sell the EchoPark site to Sonic Development, the mobility filing shows.

The project appears to be part of a multistate expansion.

Sonic Automotive, a publicly traded company, said in its quarterly Securities and Exchange Commission filing that six EchoParks operated in Colorado as of June 30.

It has six dealerships in Denver and one in Colorado Springs.

During this year and next, it expects to break ground on 10-15 EchoPark locations in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas, the filing said.

The SEC filing says the first two EchoPark locations opened in November and December 2014 in Colorado. The third opened in January 2015, the fourth and fifth in June 2016 and the sixth in June this year.

Sonic Automotive describes itself as one of the largest automotive retailers in the country measured by revenue, which was $9.7 billion in 2016, up from $9.6 billion the year before.

As of midyear, it operated 117 franchises in 13 states representing 25 brands of cars and light trucks. It also operated 18 collision repair centers.

Sonic Automotive operates among two segments — the franchised dealerships and the pre-owned segment, EchoPark.

In the filing, Sonic called EchoPark “an exciting shopping and buying experience.” 

“We believe that our EchoPark business will provide long-term benefits to us, our stockholders and our guests,” it said.

In the short term, the business might affect operational results as Sonic allocates management and capital resources to the business, it said.

EchoPark Automotive says on its echopark.com site that customers will choose from “a comprehensive selection” of used cars, trucks and SUVs, including domestic and import models. 

 “You can quickly browse our inventory by make, model and body style, or browse our entire selection of used cars for sale,” it says. “You’ll quickly discover that we don’t speak like a used car dealer. We speak how we like to be spoken to: like a neighbor or friend.”

The website says each retail space offers open-concept interactive research areas and lounge spaces to allow customers to “shop the way they want and at their desired pace.”

Sonic Automotive said an initiative introduced in late 2013 includes new processes and proprietary technologies designed to allow customers to complete a vehicle sales transaction in less than an hour. 

EchoPark might be near CarMax geographically, but in size, CarMax is the nation’s largest retailer of used cars, operating more than 180 stores in 39 states.

Richmond, Virginia-based CarMax has two Jacksonville stores, at 11335 Atlantic Blvd. and at 7438 Blanding Blvd.

EchoPark would join a corridor of almost 20 dealerships along Atlantic Boulevard from Regency Square Mall to Kernan Boulevard.

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