Denecker Chevrolet eyes Route 22A parcel, move to prominent intersection

FERRISBURGH — Denecker Chevrolet co-owners Tom Denecker and Mike Capra have emerged as potential buyers of land owned by the town of Ferrisburgh at the junction of Routes 7 and 22A.
Denecker and Capra, whose dealership has a Ferrisburgh showroom at the intersection of Route 7 and Monkton Road and a Vergennes service center on North Main Street, met behind closed doors with the Ferrisburgh selectboard on Sept. 3 to discuss the 34.9-acre parcel. Ferrisburgh has been marketing it since September 2010 for $375,000.
On Thursday, Denecker confirmed to the Independent he and his partner’s interest in the property, a purchase that he said would mean consolidating sales and service operations there and selling off the dealership’s current real estate.
“It’s our wish at this point to explore the possibility of putting a new building up at that site and finding other uses … for the other properties,” he said.
Denecker called the concept “further than a wish list,” but said there remained plenty of hoops to jump through.
The property has only about 4.5 acres that is neither tied up by conservation easements nor is classified as wetland; the dealership’s parent company, General Motors, would have to sign off; state and local permits would be needed; and no deal is in place with Ferrisburgh.
“If we can meet the conditions that would be set upon us by the town and state and the preservation trust, if we can meet their conditions and we can meet our own conditions, and we can get the blessings of General Motors, then yes, that would be our first choice,” Denecker said. “It’s a matter of we proceed and find a way and see if we can satisfy all parties.”
Ferrisburgh selectboard chairwoman Loretta Lawrence confirmed the board held two executive sessions on Sept. 3 related to Denecker’s interest. The first included Denecker, Capra and Ferrisburgh real estate broker Carl Cole, working on the dealers’ behalf; selectboard members; and Redstone broker Duncan Harris, the town’s listing agent for the property. The selectboard met with Harris during the second session.
Lawrence said, as always, details of the closed-door meetings could not be discussed afterward, and no action was taken following either.
She said time would tell if the town enters into a second purchase-and-sales agreement for the land — an earlier full-price sale fell apart after a year when contract contingencies were not met.
“It was our first meeting,” Lawrence said. “We’ll see what happens in the next few weeks.”
If Denecker moves forward, it would be his second major move in Ferrisburgh in recent years.
In 2007, he paid $585,000 for the 2.3-acre parcel off Monkton Road that sits near the Route 7 traffic light not far from Vergennes Union High School. He then invested what he called a “substantial amount” of money in a new building on the footprint of a former Sunoco station, and in 2008 Denecker moved his sales business there.
That move came after he had operated both sales and service at 14 North Main St. in Vergennes for 17 years, and after Denecker said he had concluded there was no good way to persuade motorists to turn off Route 7 to visit. At that time, service operations remained behind.
In 2010, Capra, a former local resident and experienced dealership veteran, returned to the area and became Denecker’s partner.
In the meantime, GM — which shed many dealerships during the recession — has been asking Denecker and other GM dealers to consolidate sales and service on one site.
Denecker said he and Capra have developed a workable plan to do so at their existing Ferrisburgh location, but became intrigued by the site about a half-mile north because it lies on both the major highways.
“I’m permitted (on my existing site.) I have plans. That’s all set and ready to go and ready for GM’s final blessing,” Denecker said. “But it (the other site) is a much better business corner, even though the one across from Aubuchon is awesome. It comes down to location, location, location.”
If he does move, Denecker believes he can market his current Monkton Road and North Main Street sites.
“I don’t have any opportunities knocking at the door for either of the other properties, but I am not concerned because they are at good locations,” he said.
If all the questions can be answered, Denecker and Capra’s business might have a new home in a little more than a year.
“Given a logical timetable and a relatively smooth transition, I would like to say by the end of 2014 we could be in place,” he said. “Of course, the stumbling blocks could be great.”
Denecker said business has been good, and his parent company is also doing well. GM in 2010 paid off the government loans it needed to get through the recession, and that year also turned its first quarterly profit since 2007.
According to several national news outlets, August was one of the best months in years for the U.S. auto industry, including GM. According to Bloomberg.com on Thursday, GM had its best sales month since 2007 in August, with deliveries rising by 15 percent. And Chevrolet cars have been earning good reviews, including the full-size Impala sedan receiving top marks for its category in a recent issue of Consumer Reports.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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