HOLYOKE — Approvals just keep coming from the city for a $10 million Gary Rome Hyundai dealership.
The City Council voted unanimously Wednesday (June 24) to grant two special permits to Rome for the project on Whiting Farms Road.
That followed by a night the council’s Ordinance Committee voting to recommend the permits be granted and a month after the council approved a zone change necessary for the project to proceed.
Rome said Thursday he next will submit a site plan to the Planning Board in two to three weeks, eying a fall beginning to construction and a grand opening in May.
“I’m thankful for the support that I’ve received from the community, the mayor, the entire City Council and the neighbors. I’m very excited,” Rome said.
“I know that there are a lot of hoops to jump through. We’ve gone through almost all of them,” he said.
“I’m very hopeful that we will be able to get a shovel in the ground by the fall,” he said.
The project will provide 50 new full-time jobs, some part-time jobs, thousands of dollars a years in property tax revenue and an increase in employee payroll to more than $7 million from the current $4.6 million, Rome has said.
Approval hasn’t been unanimous community-wide. Some neighbors of the site across from Autumn and Lynch drives urged the City Council to reject the zone change Rome needed because they said an auto dealership would be intrusive to the neighborhood.
To build an auto dealership, Rome needed a change in the zoning designation of the property he is buying to Business Highway from the previous Business General, which prohibits an auto dealership. The City Council voted 14-0 on May 19 to grant the zone change.
The City Council has given approvals to Rome because he put hard work into the proposal, which was thorough and clear for councilors to study and embrace, council President Kevin A. Jourdain said.
“Gary is a class act and I was very happy to support his proposal to invest $10 million dollars in Holyoke as well as add dozens of new jobs. I am sure he and his team will be a great success. It should send a strong message to others that Holyoke is very supportive of business,” Jourdain said.
One of the special permits Rome received Wednesday is to allow for a motor vehicle repair garage on the site. The other special permit is to allow for new and used cars and trucks and marine and recreational vehicles.
Rome is buying the Whiting Farms Road property from the Holyoke Gas and Electric Department for $2,050,000.
His existing dealership here at 1000 Main St. will stay open, Rome said.