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Region’s ‘Motor Mile’ gets updates

Customers who bring their cars in for service at Pohanka Nissan at Four-Mile Fork can now drive into a covered area and will be met at the door.

It’s one of a number of changes that the company has made during a $2.5 million renovation that joins what had been three separate buildings into one sleek, slightly larger building.

“We’ll have the ability to give more personal attention,” Tim Pohanka said during a tour recently. “In the long run, that makes a difference.”

Pohanka will hold the grand re-opening Thursday of its Nissan dealership at 5200 Jefferson Davis Highway and the newer Pohanka Hyundai dealership next door. The celebration will include an all-night sale Friday, and a carnival with food, face painting, a moon bounce, clowns and music on Saturday.

Pohanka Nissan and Pohanka Hyundai are two of the three three automobile dealerships along the U.S. 1 “Motor Mile” in Spotsylvania County that have been undergoing transformations recently. Rosner Toyota of Fredericksburg, 3507 Jefferson Davis Highway, is nearing completion of a $5 million renovation. It’s open, but won’t hold its grand opening until December.

“Everything is new,” said Clay Huber, president of Rosner Automotive Group said of the Toyota dealership. “There’s nothing that hasn’t been touched inside from finishes to furniture.”

The Nissan and Toyota dealerships are in buildings that had been showing their age. The original Nissan building dates to 1977 and an addition was built in the mid-1980s. The Toyota dealership opened in 1985.

Pohanka said that the Nissan building needed repairs and he wanted a better showcase for inventory and improved workspace for staff. Changes include new offices, comfortable waiting areas and an enlarged showroom that can hold up to 10 vehicles, which is double what could be displayed previously.

“If the weather is not being cooperative,” Pohanka said, “customers don’t have to go outside.”

The Hyundai dealership didn’t need as much work since it’s in a newer building. It’s being repainted and will get new signage and the car manufacturer’s signature cloud-shaped overhead decorative lighting panels. Pohanka said he didn’t know how much the update will cost because work won’t be completed until spring.

Rosner Automotive Group decided to renovate its Toyota dealership, which also sells and services Scions, because the business had outgrown the building. The facility had also become dated, especially inside, said Huber.

“We decided to do a total remodel and expansion in lieu of just a facelift,” he said. “We added a significant about of space as well.”

The additions include a service drive-in area that can handle up to 15 vehicles. The dealership’s old service lane could only hold three.

“That’s going to give our customers, obviously, a lot better experience,” Huber said.

Car manufacturers typically have an image program for their dealerships so they have a consistent look. But both Pohanka and Rosner added personal touches. Tim Pohanka, for example, printed artwork and a family photograph on a special material that he used to cover the car hoods that decorate the Hyundai dealership’s walls.

“Most dealerships have car art,” he said. “We have art on cars.”

The family photo, shot in 1920, shows Pohanka’s great-grandfather Frank Pohanka, a former jockey who started the family business. He’s standing with his staff in front of a brick barn in Washington that he converted into what was then called Pohanka Service.

Huber said that Rosner Automotive Group decided on a hybrid approach for the exterior of its Toyota dealership at Four-Mile Fork. Instead of opting to the modern-looking façade that many Toyota dealerships are switching to, Rosner included brick arches more in keeping with the area’s historic character.

“We think it’s a really pretty dealership, something a little different,” Huber said.

Ben Kamm, the general contractor for all of Pohanka’s dealerships, is doing the work at the company’s two Four-Mile Fork locations. Wack General Contractor is renovating Rosner Toyota.

All three dealerships feature open, modern-looking interiors. Besides additional showroom space and larger drive-in service areas, they include comfortable waiting rooms with Internet access, energy-efficient features and plug-in stations for electric and hybrid vehicles.

Cathy Jett: 540/374-5407