The Tesla dealer suggested replacing Pinella’s furniture store

Is Elon Musk establishing a foothold in Pinellas County? This will happen if a proposed Tesla showroom and service center come into being.

The Pinellas County Board of Adjustment and Appeals has given conditional approval to a proposed Tesla sales and service facility at an old Kane’s Furniture liquidation store in Lealman. The manufacturer of electric cars is under contract to buy the 4.2-hectare property for an undisclosed amount later this month.

While not technically a traditional retailer – Tesla’s stores are company-owned, rather than retailer-owned – the center would look and feel like one.

The 102,410-square-foot facility would let potential Tesla owners test drive and buy new cars or have their existing Teslas repaired or maintained. Newly delivered cars would be parked in a 50,000-square-foot climate-controlled storage area.

The project will add landscaping along 34th Street N and 46th Avenue N and add “a groundbreaking facade” and new roof, according to a site proposal. The company expects the new facility will employ about 50 new software and automotive technicians.

Among the potential benefits outlined by the company: Unlike a traditional car dealership, where potentially polluting materials such as fuel and oil are common, Tesla’s all-electric operation will be among “the cleanest car service centers in the United States,” according to the proposal.

The Furniture Liquidation Center located along 34th Street North, where a Tesla dealer has been proposed, Monday, April 11, 2022 in St. Louis. Petersburg. [ MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE | Times ]
Related: Florida’s first Polestar EV dealer opens in Tampa in 2022

The sale of the property is not yet final, and the county’s approval is conditional on a final review of the building plan and certain fees. But the fact that Tesla even looked at Lealman in the first place is a boon to society.

“You hear St. Pete talking about being the next Austin. Well, Lealman is its closest neighbor,” said Christopher Moore, assistant county administrator and county lealman’s liaison. income, can no longer afford to live in the city. And they can not really go south. They can go to Bradenton. But more likely they would just go north and they would hit Lealman. So just from being next door to the next Austin , you have enormous potential. “

The Tesla project is within the boundaries of the county’s Lealman Community Redevelopment Area, established in 2015. This means that the community, one of Pinellas County’s poorest, can use tax increase funding over a 30-year period to support building and infrastructure improvements. The value of the CRA will be determined when the property is revalued following Tesla’s improvements in 2023 or 2024.

“Making an investment like this in the community increases the tax value of that property,” Moore said. “There’s a direct link to further revenue.”

The package is located near the western edge of Joe’s Creek industrial area, a focus of the county’s Community Redevelopment Agency. This project is expected to include improvements to the creek, bike and hiking trails, and mixed elements that could include industrial, office, and residential purposes.

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“There are a lot of infrastructure improvements that have already happened and are happening,” said Jeremy Heath, president of the Lealman Community Redevelopment Area. “When you talk about tenants with high net worth moving in there, a combination of both workers and functionaries, finally the Joe’s Creek bike path that goes through it, you’re talking about a great resource for all walks of life, which I think “Lealman really needs.”

What attracted Tesla to Lealman, Heath said, is the low development costs compared to the rest of the Tampa Bay area, as well as its concentration of car dealers along the U.S. 19. Tesla has a retail store and a separate service center in Tampa; The Lealman project, which combines both, is part of a recent trend for the company, Moore said.

Tesla does not have a media relations department; an email to its investor relations department was not returned Monday afternoon. A spokesman for Kane declined to comment on the property to be acquired by Tesla, but confirmed that there are no plans to close a nearby furniture showroom at 4501 34th St. N.

Moore and Heath compared Tesla’s impending arrival to another technology giant, Amazon, which announced last year that they were building a giant distribution warehouse in Pinellas Park.

Related: Amazon announces the giant Tallahassee warehouse, Pinella’s delivery center

“It’s just really the tip of the spear in terms of investment and opportunities that exist here to really transform society,” Moore said. “Some of the biggest, smartest companies in the world have done their research and said, ‘This is where we want to be.'”

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