With a planned Lidl store off the drawing board, an auto dealership is in the works for a former church property in Mechanicsville.
Atlanta-based EH Automotive Group is seeking a rezoning approval that would set the stage for a new Kia dealership at 6395 Mechanicsville Turnpike.
The auto group’s COO Amr Hallaba said in an interview last week the company plans to buy the 6-acre property from German grocer Lidl, which has backed away from previous plans to build a grocery store on the site.
Hallaba declined to share how much money is expected to change hands in the deal. Lidl paid $4.9 million for the property in 2017. The property, formerly home to Shalom Baptist Church, was most recently assessed at $3.3 million, per online land records.
The proposed dealership is planned to cost more than $8 million to build and would include a 19,000-square-foot building. Once all permits and approvals are lined up, Hallaba said construction would take 12 to 14 months.
New Hampshire-based Jewett Construction Co. is the project’s general contractor and locally based Bohler is handling engineering.
The dealership is expected to be the auto group’s first location in the Richmond region. EH Automotive Group has a dealership in Northern Virginia as well as locations in Georgia, Tennessee, New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts.
Hallaba said the search for someone to come aboard as a partner and general manager for the local outpost is underway.
The dealership is expected to have 45 to 50 employees.
The rezoning case is set to go before the Hanover County Planning Commission on May 18. The proposal would then at a later date go to the Board of Supervisors for final approval.
The applicant’s request is to rezone the property from neighborhood business district with conditions B-1(c) to general business district with conditions B-3(c).
Jeff Geiger of Hirschler is representing EH Automotive Group in its rezoning process.
It’s unclear what motivated Lidl to nix its plans for a store on the property. The grocery store chain didn’t respond to a request for comment Friday. The company has six stores in the Richmond region.
As Lidl backs down in Mechanicsville, another grocer is going in on a bigger presence nearby. Kroger is working on a project to build a new store just down the turnpike to replace its nearby existing outpost.