The unsurprising announcements from Chrysler and GM that they plan to collectively shutter (or rather cut off the supply of cars) to around 2,000 dealerships has lodged this question in my head, “What can we do with this space?”
When I picture a car dealership, I picture a giant lot, sitting next to a noisy freeway (usually on an ugly strip of multiple dealerships called “Auto Row”). While it’s a substantial amount of space, it’s location doesn’t make it prime residential development, but these are still relatively big tracks of land.
Along with foreclosed McMansions, these dealerships represent ugly bits of space and are a legacy of our decade-long credit binge. They force me to wonder, “How can we prettify the land? How can we make these plots/showrooms useful?”
Perhaps like another 1990’s failed business model, the Metreon*, they can be turned into suburban farmers’ markets? Imagine if each dealership could somehow be turned into slow food show rooms in communities all across America (my memory from the Michael Pollan talk is hazy — did he propose this at his talk? My notes show that he referred to “Farmers markets as the new public square.”). If we can turn parking spaces into parks, this could be a possibility, no?
Just a thought.