Site preparations began last week for Forsyth County’s first Honda dealership.
Duluth-based Lou Sobh company hopes to have the location on Hwy. 20 and Nuckolls Road ready by August, said Mike Sobh, a partner and manager.
County staff approved the request for a site development permit for the nearly 14-acre property on Feb. 8.
The approved site plan includes a sales and service building of about 55,000 square feet, a car wash and 761 parking spaces for display, inventory, repairs, customers and employees.
Sobh said the building will be the newest design from Honda, a “state-of-the-art facility.”
New vehicles will be exclusively Hondas, he said, but the dealer will also sell several types of pre-owned autos.
He expects the dealership will create about 80 jobs, and its construction likely will also provide work for local vendors.
County Commissioner Jim Boff, who represents the district that includes the site, signed off after reviewing the plans to ensure zoning conditions and neighbors’ expectations were met.
“It gets the ball rolling on some development in the county,” he said. “It’s out on Hwy. 20, which is a pretty good place for it.”
Boff said it’s possible that the opening of one dealership could lead to others along the four-lane state route. That prospect would be good for bringing more business to the county, though the concentration of dealers and lights could be less desirable.
Sobh cited the easy access to Ga. 400 and existing commercial development on Hwy. 20 as appealing factors.
“There’s already a lot of Hondas in operation in that area,” he said. “We’re excited to service them. They have to drive all over the place right now, so we’ll have a convenient location for Honda owners.”
The company originally sought to build a Honda dealership on Peachtree Parkway at Majors Road starting in 2008, but a legal challenge from a nearby dealer held up the plans.
WMW Inc., known as Honda Carland, in Roswell brought suit against the parent company in 2010 after it received notice that Honda intended to grant Sobh Automotive a franchise agreement for the south Forsyth locale.
WMW contended that the site violated the state’s Motor Vehicle Franchise Purchases Act, which “prohibits a franchiser from establishing a new dealership within the ‘relevant market area’ of the existing dealership,” according to a case summary from the Georgia Supreme Court.
The Roswell dealer also had a repairs location in Alpharetta that was within the act’s limiting eight-mile radius of the proposed new site.
The case was appealed to the state Supreme Court, which agreed in October with the rulings of trial and appeals courts that the repairs facility in Alpharetta wasn’t protected under that act.
The ruling would have allowed Honda to approve a franchise at the Peachtree Parkway location.
Honda, however, withdrew its plans to approve the franchise on Hwy. 141 in June, according to the Supreme Court decision. No reason was given.
Though acquiring a site in Forsyth took nearly five years, Sobh said the plans for the dealership remain similar, but the building model and technology have advanced since then.
“We’re excited to be part of Forsyth County community,” he said. “We’ve been waiting a long time to get this open and started. Hopefully the community’s excited as well.”