Alan Webb seeks Chevy franchise

Curt Warner’s dealership to cease business on July 31

By Cami Joner, Columbian retail & real estate reporter

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Alan Webb confirmed Thursday that he is negotiating to purchase Curt Warner’s Vancouver Chevrolet dealership and move the brand’s operation from its Mill Plain Boulevard outpost to state Highway 500, near the city’s largest concentration of auto dealers.

July 31 will be the last day of business for Curt Warner Chevrolet, according to a notification letter the company sent to its strategic partners and vendors. Warner has operated the business since 1999 at 10811 S.E. Mill Plain Blvd., near Interstate 205. Previously Bob Kendall had owned the dealership and operated at that site for many years.

Webb, a longtime local dealer whose franchises include Mitsubishi, Mazda and Nissan, would purchase Warner’s inventory of Chevrolet vehicles, parts, equipment and tools.

He would move the dealership into his company’s former Dodge facility on his 5-acre complex at 3616 N.E. 66th Ave. The location is part of the 20-acre Vancouver Auto Park, which includes Ford, Hyundai and Suzuki, and not far from a cluster of Clark County’s largest auto dealers including the Dick Hannah Auto Mall.

Webb opened the site and $10.7 million worth of facilities in early 2009 for his Dodge and Mazda brands. Webb lost the Dodge franchise, which he had newly acquired, in June 2009 when Chrysler filed for bankruptcy protection and reduced its dealer network.

General Motors also sought bankruptcy protection and downsized its dealer network, but Curt Warner Chevrolet was not among those dropped.

Warner could not be reached for comment Wednesday or Thursday. However, the former Seattle Seahawks star recently acknowledged that business has been extremely challenging due to the sluggish economy, high unemployment and consumers who cut back on spending.

“The last couple of years have been difficult for everyone,” said Jon Creedon, owner of Vancouver Ford.

Creedon expects business to improve with the domestic auto industry’s efforts to create safer, more fuel-efficient vehicles. The trend and Webb’s intent to move the Chevrolet brand next door could boost Vancouver Ford, he said.

“I am excited about having Chevrolet next to Ford. People can shop the two strongest American-made brands side by side. They won’t have to drive all over town to buy a new domestic car or truck,” Creedon said.

Creedon also suggested a different use for Curt Warner Chevrolet’s 16-acre sales lot, showroom and service center on Mill Plain Boulevard.

“It’s an excellent location for a hotel, motel, shopping center or retail center,” he said.