The retail space in R+D 659 has never been leased in the history of the building – it has sat vacant since 2006. Especially since there will not be a garage here, I’m happy to have Fiat as a neighbor.
Fiat of Chicago hopes to open its 12,900-square-foot dealership at 647 W. Randolph St. by July, says Carmelo Scalzo, who will co-own the dealership with his father Antonio Scalzo. They chose the location, on the ground floor of the 15-story R+D 659 condo tower, largely because of its location next to the highway, Carmelo Scalzo says.
After 28 years away from the U.S., Milan-based based Fiat SpA, which also owns Chrysler, began selling its Fiat 500 model here last year and has already opened dealerships in the suburbs. Since its American return, the company has rolled out a publicity blitz including television advertisements featuring Jennifer Lopez and Charlie Sheen. Fiat of Chicago aims to generate its own attention with visibility and easy accessibility to hundreds of thousands of drivers a day.
“With the right signage, that’s about the heaviest traffic there is in Chicago,” says Greg Kirsch, principal at New York-based Newmark Knight Frank, who represents retail tenants in Chicago but was not involved in this deal. “It kind of follows what Mercedes did on North Avenue. That was a good example of taking advantage of the expressway traffic. The rental income from billboards alone can be tens of thousands of dollars a month, so why not use the high visibility and make it convenient for the customer at the same time?”
The Scalzos already own and operate Volvo of Oak Park. They sought out the Fiat brand because Antonio Scalzo worked as a Fiat technician in his native Calabria, Italy, before coming to the U.S. and eventually owning his own Fiat and Alfa Romeo dealership in Berwyn and later Maywood. “It was an opportunity for my father to get back to his roots with Fiat and Alfa Romeo,” Carmelo Scalzo says. “We’ve been pursuing it for a couple of years, and with our history and heritage they thought we’d be a good fit.”
The younger Mr. Scalzo says he plans to sell 600 Fiats a year out of the dealership, which would give it one of the highest volumes in the country. When the higher-end Alfa Romeo brand returns to the U.S. in 2013 or ’14, those sports cars will become available in the Chicago showroom, he says. That will create price ranges from about $16,000 for the Fiat 500 to more than $60,000 for some Alfa Romeos, Mr. Scalzo says. Fiat of Chicago will have a bright, red-and-white showroom — or “studio,” as the company calls it — with high ceilings. It will not have a service garage.
(click here to continue reading Fiat dealer, parking on Randolph, aims to turn heads on Kennedy – News – Crain’s Chicago Business.)
Maybe the Scalzos want to purchase some Chicago-esque photographs to hang in their showroom?