Berkeley Honda, which was displaced from its home at 2600 Shattuck Ave. in November, is making plans to move down the street into the building now occupied by Any Mountain, at 2777 Shattuck. Any Mountain has yet to find a new location in the city.
If Berkeley approves the auto dealership’s application, it would end a seven-year odyssey for one of Berkeley’s largest generators of sales tax. The dealership learned in 2008 that it had to leave its home of 40 years on Shattuck Avenue to make way for a mixed-use development called Parker Place. The dealership attempted to move to other locales in Berkeley, only to see them fall through. It is now renting temporary space at 2627 Shattuck Ave.
“It’s going to be Honda’s latest showroom design,” said Tim Beinke, the dealer/operator who owns the business with his father, Steve. “We have a lot of new products coming out. We have plug-in cars and a list of smaller vehicles.”
The city of Berkeley is so eager to keep Berkeley Honda that it will vote whether to waive the dealership’s building permit fees at its March 25 meeting. (The council had extended the same offer in 2014 for a property that fell through.)
New auto sales are the third largest generator of sales tax for the city, according to information provided by the office of economic development. The city collected close to $1.2 million in sales tax for new cars in the last four quarters. New car sales account for 7.8% of the city’s annual sales tax revenue, behind restaurants, which provide 21.3% of the sales tax revenue, and general merchandise, which accounts for 10.3%.
Auto dealers, on an individual basis, are about the biggest generators of sales tax of all retailers, according to Michael Caplan, the head of the city’s economic development program. So the loss (or gain) of an individual dealership can have a significant impact on sales-tax receipts, he said.
Berkeley Honda is “such an important part of both the revenue base of the city and also the blue-collar job base of the city,” Caplan said. “There are dozens and dozens of highly paid union auto mechanics working for them. You are retaining jobs that are the kinds of jobs the city has a hard time developing and retaining — highly paid working-class jobs.”
Berkeley Honda does not plan to change the exterior of the new location at 2777 Shattuck Ave. as the building has been listed on the state’s historic resource inventory, according to Ali Kashani, who has been hired by the Beinkes to usher the project through the Berkeley zoning process. The building was originally a bowling alley, then became Berkeley Bowl, and then became an Any Mountain outlet in 1999. Glenn Yasuda, the proprietor of Berkeley Bowl, owns the property, which includes one 16,720 square foot space (now used by Any Mountain) and one 2,400 square foot space (now the home of Sconehenge Café.)
Sconehenge will not be affected, said Kashani. Neither will Kirala, the Japanese restaurant that sits next door, he said.
Berkeley Honda does plan to construct a 2,900 square foot building on a parking lot on the south side of the building, along Stuart Street, according to documents submitted to the city.
The Beinkes also plan to lease the 31-space parking lot across the street from the Any Mountain building at 2727 Adeline St. Berkeley Honda will use the lot for parking and auto display, according to documents submitted to the city. It will move the eight parking spaces now used by Kirala to a lot behind the building on Ward Street.
The planning process is at the very early stages, said Kashani. He filed a pre-application form with the city on Feb. 17. After hearing some initial feedback on the design, Berkeley Honda plans to reach out to the LeConte Neighborhood Association and discuss how to mitigate any impacts that have been identified, said Kashani.
Representatives from Any Mountain did not return phone calls from Berkeleyside. But Caplan said that the sports store had decided the space was too big and was looking to move. Kashani said Any Mountain officials had approached Yasuda about getting out of its lease early.
Jim Doten Honda occupied a large showroom at 2600 Shattuck for years. The Beinkes purchased the dealership about 10 years ago. Kashani, acting in a different capacity, acquired the property and made plans to tear down the building and construct a mixed-use development.
Kashani said the Beinkes approached Honda USA about remaining in the building, but the corporation nixed the idea because it wanted the auto dealership closer to the freeway.
The Beinkes then started a long search for a new location. They found it a difficult task since other Honda dealerships were concerned Berkeley Honda would encroach on their customers. California’s New Motor Vehicle Board prohibits dealers from locating within 10 miles of another dealer of the same make.
“Every time they found something by the freeway, or in West Berkeley, El Cerrito Honda shot them down,” said Kashani. “Any time they found something in South Berkeley, Oakland Honda shot them down.”
Berkeley Honda finally found a location at 1500 San Pablo Ave., in the location of the former McNevin Cadillac dealership. The Beinkes had signed a letter of intent with Hudson McDonald, which owned the property, said Kashani. But the Beinkes apparently never signed a lease for the property, which allowed the The Shorenstein Company, a real-estate company, to come in and make a deal. Shorenstein now plans to build a mixed-use housing development on that site, Caplan said.
In the meantime, Kashani, after battling over the Parker Place development in court for years, sold the project to Lennar Urban in June 2014. Berkeley Honda had to vacate that space so construction could begin. It moved its auto sales across the street to 2627 Shattuck Ave. in November, to property owned by Reza Valiyee. The Berkeley Honda repair department is temporarily at 1500 San Pablo Ave.
When it didn’t look like any space was opening up, Honda USA offered the Beinkes a dealership in Brentwood.
The new project will bring all the pieces of the Berkeley Honda dealership back together. The new site will house sales, parts, and service.
Beinke said Any Mountain is scheduled to move out in a few months. Caplan said Any Mountain has not yet located a new space, either in Berkeley or nearby.
Kashani said he is hoping the city of Berkeley can move quickly on reviewing plans for the new Berkeley Honda.
“Berkeley Honda is requesting that the city put this application on a fast track as it is currently operating out of two temporary facilities in Berkeley,” according to the preapplication documents. “Berkeley Honda risks losing customers and market share if this inconvenience to its customers is too long, which will impact its gross receipts and thus reduce income to the City of Berkeley.”
The City Council in 2009 waived up to $500,000 in building permit fees for Weatherford BMW in order to keep it in Berkeley. In 2011, the City Council voted to rezone this portion of the South Shattuck corridor to permit auto sales. Berkeley had outlawed those uses in the 1980s, but allowed the existing auto dealers to be grandfathered in.
Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses (1.13.15)
Council to consider zoning change for “auto row” dealers (9.27.11)