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University Ford and Kia begin construction on new U.S. 15-501 business site

Construction has begun on the new University Ford and University Kia facilities at the intersection of U.S. 15-501 and SW Durham Drive.
Construction has begun on the new University Ford and University Kia facilities at the intersection of U.S. 15-501 and SW Durham Drive. The Herald-Sun

The University Ford and University Kia auto dealerships have begun construction on a new facility off U.S.15-501, as the largest remaining auto dealership in downtown Durham begins the process of relocating.

The dealerships plan to build two buildings at the intersection of U.S. 15-501 and SW Durham Drive. County records show that the dealership purchased two tracts of land there in 2015 and 2016 for a combined $7.4 million.

Tony Fisher, president of the dealerships, anticipates the construction timeline to be approximately 10 months, which would put the company’s official move to southwest Durham sometime in the first quarter of 2018.

The combined dealership was one of the largest auto dealerships to remain in downtown – as others, such as Hendrick Durham Auto Mall and Elkins Chrysler Dealership, were sold in recent years to developers.

In October, University Ford and Kia sold its property to Capitol Broadcasting Co., the developers of the American Tobacco Campus, for $28.8 million.

The large price tag reflected the increasing value of property in that section of downtown since a wave of development was started by the construction of Durham Bulls Athletic Park in 1995. A 2016 Durham County appraisal of the property was $9.5 million.

CBC hasn’t said how it plans to develop the property yet, although it’s hosting a design charrette on June 14 at the American Tobacco Campus to discuss the potential development.

The former Elkins Chrysler dealership — which was acquired by Charlotte developer Northwood Ravin for $11.7 million in 2015 — is being developed into a 10-story tower called 555 Mangum.

Zachery Eanes: 919-419-6684, @zeanes

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