A used car business with locations in Burbank and Chicago has plans to open its next dealership in Palos Hills.
Mayor Gerald Bennett invited Baha Auto Group Inc. general manager Musa Muza to the city’s committee-of-the-whole meeting on March 3 to discuss his plans to turn the long vacant building on 110th Street and Southwest Highway that formerly housed Hames Buick into his newest dealership.
Muza has operated the dealerships in Burbank, 8059 Harlem Ave., and Chicago, 4257 W. North Ave., for the past four years and said coming to Palos Hills is a logical choice.
“I live here and I like it here,” Muza said of Palos Hills. “We’re looking forward to expanding and bringing our experience to Palos Hills. We’re looking forward to bringing business to the city.”
Muza said he intends to close on the 31,000-square foot building within 60 days. Once the sale is complete, he plans to open the dealership “as soon as possible.” A summer opening is likely, he said.
The building – although devoid of a tenant for more than a decade – remains in good shape, Muza said. The property, however, does need some enhancements.
“As far as the inside (of the building), it was really built for a dealership so there isn’t much that we have to do from the inside,” he said. “The outside needs some landscaping and the parking lot needs some work. We will need to add more lights to the parking lot.”
Ald.Joe Marrotta (4th Ward) had nothing but good things to say about the Baha Auto Group.
“I think your building on Harlem Avenue is very nice,” Marrotta told Muza. “My brother lives over in Bridgeview so I’ve driven by (the Burbank dealership) several times. It’s a real nice property
“I think this will absolutely be a nice addition for Palos Hills.”
Ald. Mike LeBarre (3rd Ward) echoed Marrotta’s sentiments. He complimented Muza for the work he did at the Burbank location after purchasing the property from the former owner.
“I’ve went by the place on Harlem Avenue and Musa has really brought it back to life,” LeBarre said. “You’ve really done a nice job there.”
Bennett said he is pleased a long shuttered building is to be revived.
“We’re obviously excited that you are taking a piece of property that has been sitting there for some time and putting it back in use,” he said. “This will add retail sales tax to the city and that’s what economic development is all about.”
Muza said his car prices start at $10,000 and the minimum sale is around $15,000. He hopes to sell 150 cars per month; a goal he believes is reachable since his sales are roughly 125 cars a month at his Burbank location.
The Palos Hills location would also have a full-service mechanic and body shop, he said. The dealership is to be open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The service department’s hours would be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
A special use already exists for the property since it was previously a car dealership so no variances are needed, Bennett said. The board is expected to vote on a memorandum of understanding at its next meeting which, if approved, would officially pave the way for the dealership to open in Palos Hills.
The MOU would define the ground rules for the property – making note of the special use on the property and certain restrictions pertaining to the service department, Bennett said.
In other news, city officials voted 8-1 to direct parks and recreation commissioner Kristen Violante to apply to the ComEd Green Region Program in hopes of securing grant money to help fund the installation of pavilion at Pleasure Lake, 10800 S. Roberts Road.
The 50/50 matching grant would be up to $10,000. Palos Hills would then be required to pay any costs in addition to $10,000. The exact cost of the pavilion is unknown, but city officials expect it will be more than $20,000.
Violante said the city will find out by June whether the application has been approved.