The Pleasanton Planning Commission voted unanimously Wednesday to approve plans by CarMax, Inc., the country's largest retailer of used cars, to build a regional auto "Superstore" on a 20-acre site at I-580 and El Charro Road on Pleasanton's far northeast side.
The pre-owned car dealership will include three main single-story buildings with heights of up to 24 feet, including a main 13,064-square-foot "sales and presentation" building facing the 580 freeway.
A larger 45,000-square-foot service building will be located farther south, with other buildings, including a non-public car wash, to be built between the freeway and Stoneridge Drive, where the main entry to CarMax will be located.
Keith Henderson, the company's real estate representative from its headquarters in Richmond, Va., told members of the city's Planning Commission that CarMax will occupy 20 of the 37 acres corner of Staples Ranch, already zoned for auto dealerships, leaving two other parcels available for new car dealerships in the future.
At one time, the Hendrick Automotive Group had planned to develop the entire auto mall site, but backed off as the recession hit and chose instead to expand its existing facilities in Pleasanton just off Santa Rita Road.
Henderson said CarMax has grown to over 100 locations since opening its first outlet in 1993 and has sold more than 4 million cars since then.
"Last year we sold 450,000 vehicles at our 130 stores in 55 markets across the country," Henderson said. "Pleasanton will be one of our first stores in the Bay Area."
He said the company prides itself on a hassle-free relationship with its customers where sales representatives do not haggle on prices. What the price shows on the car is what CarMax sells it for.
CarMax also plans to erect at 45-foot tall pylon sign at the edge of I-580 with a 20-foot wide illuminated sign in the company's gold, white and blue colors. Ground-level monument signs will be located at other parts of the site.
Henderson said the Pleasanton site will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday with limited hours on Sunday. The service areas will operate from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
CarMax operates differently from traditional car dealerships in that it separates its inventory area from customer and employee parking areas. This is both for loss prevention control as well as operational efficiency and safety, Henderson explained.
Also, CarMax does not use outdoor loudspeakers as sales associates carry pagers and cell phones for communications. In addition , the company does not use flags, balloons, inflatable gorillas or any other animal, placards in open car hoods, painted window lettering or other similar marketing techniques.
CarMax's planned unit development proposal now goes to the City Council, probably in May, for final consideration.