Ann Arbor MINI dealership aiming for late summer opening
Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com
The dealership, located at the site of the former Jim Bradley Pontiac dealership just west of Ann Arbor at 3500 Jackson Road, is aiming for a late summer opening.
The former Jim Bradley dealership was demolished in September 2011, and a new 12,802-square-foot building has since replaced it on the 7.7-acre property. Owner Mack Johnson said the roof, electrical and drywall will be installed in the coming weeks.
Plans include 63 parking spaces for customers and staff and 168 for storage and display. There is an existing 5,390-square-foot building at the rear of the property that will be used for storage, Johnson said. The architect for the project is Scott Bowers of Bowers + Rein of Ann Arbor. Steve Brouwer of Dexter-based A.R. Brouwer Co. is doing contracting work.
“We’re probably about 65 to 70 percent (of the way done),” Johnson said. “We’re thinking that somewhere in late summer is when we’ll probably open if everything comes together.”
Johnson — who started his automotive career as a parts driver for Jim Bradley in the mid-1980s — bought the Jim Bradley dealership in 2010. He moved the dealership’s remaining GM brands, Buick and GMC, to his former building at 500 Auto Mall Drive, where he’d operated a Saturn dealership until GM discontinued that brand during the auto crisis.
That building housed the renamed Mack Buick-GMC franchise until the LaFontaine Automotive Group purchased the dealership earlier this year.
Sarah Woolson, the MINI dealership’s general manager, said they encountered “unforeseeable” delays when constructing the MINI dealership, which they originally hoped to open in February 2011.
“I just think we were a little overzealous in setting some of our deadlines initially,” she said. “It wasn’t necessarily one thing (that slowed construction), but I think we were so excited about giving the franchise. Now, we want to slow it down and get it done.”
Johnson said they plan to have about 20 people employed at the dealership, along with Woolson and Greg Bryant, the fixed operations manager. They are accepting applications via email.
Johnson declined to disclose the cost of the project, but said: “It’s a big investment. It’s a big commitment from myself and Vanessa Bradley (Jim Bradley’s daughter). We’ve committed because we want to bring this to Ann Arbor and make sure people know we’re investing back in our town.”
Johnson said he has a partnership with the Bradley family and is leasing the property from them. He said Jim Bradley, who died in 2003, was one of his biggest mentors.
And as a long time Ann Arbor resident — Johnson grew up in the area and went to Pioneer High School — he said it’s a “dream come true” to open the MINI dealership in his hometown.
“I feel like I’ve accomplished something by being a person that grew up here and now investing here,” he said. “I know what Ann Arbor is all about. We’re committed to our community and we will never turn our back on them.”
The MINI dealership will be the third in Michigan; other outlets are in Macomb County’s Shelby Township and Grand Rapids. Since the brand — part of the BMW family — launched U.S. sales in 2002, it has been expanding its dealer network. There are currently more than 100 U.S. MINI dealers, according to the MINI website.
The BMW Group calls MINI “the world’s first premium small car.”
MINI dealerships typically are located near BMW dealers, industry experts said. BMW of Ann Arbor, on Auto Mall Drive, is located about a half-mile west of the MINI dealership site.
According to MINI, the brand sold 27,527 units worldwide in May 2012, up 5.5 percent over May 2011. In the U.S., which the group says is its largest market, it sold 6,153 units in May.