Electric car manufacturer and retailer Tesla Inc. is eyeing a pair of vacant buildings in Greenburgh for the possible openings of a new car dealership and customer education center.
The Palo Alto, Calififornia-based company has set its sights on both a 24,000-square-foot retail center at 250 Tarrytown Road and a 35,000-square-foot warehouse at 90 Fairview Park Drive.
In what was formerly the home of Jeraci Food Distributors Inc. on Fairview Park Drive, Tesla has floated the idea of opening a showroom and dealership.
Less than three miles away at the Tarrytown Road building, the luxury car company may transform the multitenant retail space along Route 119 into a customer education center. The building, which once housed a number of tenants including a nail salon, deli and women’s fashion brand Joyce Leslie, would serve as place for new owners to learn the ins and outs of their new electric vehicle.
“We’ve been working with Tesla for quite some time now in searching for a proper facility in the area where they can house both sales and service,” said James MacDonald of Simone Development Cos., the company that owns both properties. “It’s important that the two of them were within a close proximity.”
Earlier this year, Simone Development purchased 90 Fairview Park Drive for $5.45 million from an entity of Jeraci Food Distributors, which closed its doors in October.
“We made it worth their while to relocate,” McDonald said, adding that it was “very important” for Tesla to not be part of a multitenant center.
“It really just came together and kind of a light went off,” said MacDonald, who serves as vice president of leasing for Simone Metro Properties.
While the education center would qualify as a permitted use under the town’s zoning code, the showroom on Fairview Park Drive would require an amendment.
Simone Development presented its proposed zoning changes to the Green burgh town board earlier this month. The developer hopes to modify zoning for the town’s nonresidential planned development district, which permits office, industrial, warehousing and certain commercial uses, to allow car sales.
Greenburgh Supervisor Paul Feiner responded with enthusiasm to Tesla’s interest in the town.
“It’s a real positive for the whole (Route) 119 corridor,” Feiner said. “I think this is the type of company that we would really want to attract to the town.”
Still, a spokesperson for Tesla said a new dealership opening in Greenburgh is not yet a done deal.
“It’s one of many locations we’re considering,” the spokesperson said. “I don’t want to give the impression that this is something we’re certainly going to do.”
Tesla already operates a sales center at the Westchester Mall in White Plains and a sales and service center in Mount Kisco. Other Tesla locations in New York State include East Hampton and Huntington Station “galleries” in Long Island,which give prospective buyers a chance to look at and test-drive vehicles, though purchasing must be made later via phone or the internet. The company also operates a sales and service center in Brooklyn and a pair of sales centers in Manhattan.
Tesla’s footprint in New York is limited to five sales locations by a law passed by the state legislature in 2014. That law was the result of pushback from certain members of the auto industry who took issue with Tesla’s direct-sales model, which bypasses traditional franchised dealerships.
Just before the end of this year’s legislative session, state Assembly Majority Leader Joseph D. Morelle introduced a bill that would raise the cap on the company’s sales centers to 20. The bill would require five of those stores to be built north of Orange County.
Tesla’s spokesperson said he hopes the bill will be given a new life when lawmakers return to Albany in January for the 2018 legislative session. “We do want to have a good idea of locations that we could build on if we were able to pass legislation this coming year,” he said.
There are a large number of Tesla customers in Westchester County, the spokesperson said, a market the company hopes to serve with the opening of new sales centers.
In Connecticut, where the company’s direct-sales model is prohibited, Tesla operates a single gallery at 340 Greenwich Ave., though the status of that location is under dispute. Earlier this year, the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles ordered Tesla to “cease all functions” at the gallery, though its doors are still open pending an appeal. Tesla is pushing Connecticut lawmakers to pass the so-called “Tesla Bill,” which would allow direct sales of its vehicles to customers.
The company is also working to ready a number of brick-and-mortar stores across the country in conjunction with the release of its latest vehicle, the Model 3. The sedan, which retails for around $35,000, will be the most affordable model Tesla has ever offered. The automaker’s vehicles typically range from $70,000 to more than $100,000.