Denecker dealership slated for makeover

MIDDLEBURY — It has indeed been a very eventful seven months for local businessmen Tom Denecker and Mike Capra.
This past December, the two owners of Denecker Chevrolet, Inc. in Vergennes completed the purchase of Shea Motors in Middlebury.
Now the duo are proposing a major reconstruction of their new acquisition at 510 Route 7 South in Middlebury in an effort to make it more user-friendly, energy efficient and in keeping with the style and color scheme of other General Motors buildings throughout the nation.
“We’re looking forward to it,” Capra said on Tuesday of the building improvements, which are part of a permit application under review by the Middlebury Development Review Board.
“We are hoping to have good luck with the town.”
Capra noted the current auto sales/service building, of suspected 1950s vintage, is made up of roughly 19,000 square feet.
“The building is highly inefficient,” reads a project narrative the applicants recently submitted to the DRB. “For example, it requires 2,200 gallons of fuel per month to heat.”
Denecker and Capra promised the new building would feature “modern construction with LED lighting, energy efficient heating and air conditioning, insulation and radiant-heat floors. The project design will also be reviewed by Efficiency Vermont.”
The renovated/reconstructed building would include a new water service sized to accommodate adequate pressure flow for sprinklers. New sewer service will provide for an oil-water separator for the floor drains in the service shop and modern, low-flow plumbing fixtures, according to the application.
Capra said the project also calls for the building to assume a slightly smaller footprint and to be equipped with a second floor for offices. It is a project that would also result in a modest shift of the building to a more southerly location on what is a 8.92-acre lot, according to plans submitted to the town.
Plans also call for a reduction in vehicle display parking spots in front of the building, from the current 56 to 24.
The existing business includes three curb cuts on Route 7 south. Denecker and Capra are proposing to reduce that number to two.
The project will also improve the conformance of the site with the Middlebury zoning and subdivision regulations, according to the applicants. The developed portion of the property is located in the Village Residential Commercial (VRC) zoning district, and the rear undeveloped portion of the property is located in the Agricultural/Rural zoning district. The building is an existing non-conforming structure with respect to the 25-foot setback requirement for the VRC, according to the application.
Denecker and Capra are also seeking DRB permission to use Aluminum Composite Material (ACM) panels in the building construction. As for aesthetics, they would like to use the gray and blue color scheme that denotes the GM brand.
If things proceed smoothly, construction is expected to last around eight months, according to Capra. Work would take place in a manner that would allow the business operations to proceed uninterrupted.
“We’ve got to pay for the building,” Capra said with a smile.
And business has been good these past six months at the Middlebury location where 26 fulltime workers and some additional part-timers see to the customers’ needs, according to Capra.
“The response from customers has been great,” Capra said. “It has given us a fantastic boost in our ability to serve customers to the south. The amount of Rutland customers has been surprising.”
The Denecker Chevrolet business at 14 Main St. in Vergennes will continue to offer sales of pre-owned vehicles, parts and service. The new Middlebury location provides those same functions in addition to the sale of new vehicles.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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