Auto repair shops are becoming a hot commodity along the Boulevard.
One week after the Woody’s Auto Service building on Myers Street was sold for more than $1 million to make way for a AAA location, a local franchise of fellow car care chain Midas purchased the North American Transmission building at 1208-1216 N. Boulevard for $1.29 million.
Midas of Richmond purchased the 15,575-square-foot building in a deal that closed Monday. The seller was the family of Albert and Annabele Chiocca, who owned the building since at least 1999, according to city property records. A recent city assessment valued the 0.37-acre property at $655,000.
The Chiocca family was represented by Read Goode and Cheryle Toy of Divaris Real Estate. Midas was represented by Brian Berkey of Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer.
Mark Smith, owner of Midas of Central Virginia, which totals four locations including Midas of Richmond’s two shops, in Short Pump and near Willow Lawn, said he had been eyeing the North American Transmission building for years. The transmission shop had leased the building until it closed last year.
“I’d hunted that specific location for probably three years,” Smith said. “I love the market; I love the fit it has for other stores. I think there’s a great play to be made there.”
Smith said he’ll invest $750,000 into renovating the building, which has served as an auto repair garage since it was built in 1927, save for a stint as a dry cleaning facility in the ‘40s.
Smith said the renovations will stay within requirements for historic tax credits. It will renovate the interior, which features skylights, and the exterior, notable for its billboard signage on the roof.
The shop will include spaces for other organizations Midas of Richmond works with, such as Virginia Blood Service and FeedMore. Smith is working with Susan Orange and Ray Trevillian of Baskervill on designs. Capstone Contracting Co. is the general contractor.
The building will be Midas of Central Virginia’s fifth location in the region – and just a block away from the planned AAA center at the Woody’s Auto building at 929 Myers St. Smith said he’s not concerned about the neighboring competition.
“We do what we’re supposed to do. I let the other guys worry about the other guys,” he said.
Smith said he is aiming to open the location in September.
While the historically industrial Boulevard corridor and neighboring Scott’s Addition have attracted new users in recent years, the Midas and AAA transactions buck that trend, with similar users filling space that has been used in those ways for decades.
Goode, who with Toy handles leasing at Scott’s Addition’s redeveloped HandCraft building, said the North American Transmission building attracted interest from a variety of potential users, from office tenants to restaurants to entertainment venues, since it was listed for lease about a year ago. He said the property’s lack of parking and required renovations turned most parties away, the majority of whom were interested in buying rather than leasing.
“We had various scenarios to redevelop the building. We couldn’t find the right fit,” Goode said. “The owner decided they could sell it, and we had a lot of people interested in buying it.
“The Scott’s Addition market is in such an evolution right now. We had a lot of different users look at the building,” he said. “But the parking was the main thing.”
“I don’t find it surprising that you have two buildings that have been used as auto service for decades to be used that way again,” Goode said. “The bottom line with Scott’s Addition is it’s the commercial real estate market that ultimately determines what uses and rents will be.”