Italian luxury automaker Ferrari’s prancing horse logo will soon be visible to motorists driving on Interstate 394 past Golden Valley. On April 6, Twin City Automotive received approval from the Golden Valley City Council to convert an operations building at 9191 Wayzata Blvd. into a Ferrari dealership. The business, owned by Carousel Motor Group, currently sells Audi and Porsche vehicles on a nearly 10-acre complex on the Golden Valley-St. Louis Park border.
Wayne Pisinski, Carousel’s vice president of fixed operations, spoke to the council on behalf of the business. Pisinski said Ferrari officials had approached Carousel Motor Group to sell their vehicles, and he believed that the Porsche-Audi dealership was the most lucrative choice due to its location along the interstate.
“We saw it as a very very small business,” said Pisinski of the deliberations.
The proposed Ferrari building served as the Porsche dealership until the brand moved into a larger building constructed in 2015. Currently, it serves both Audi and Porsche’s internal operations. The building about half the size of the Porsche dealership and about one-third the size of the central Audi dealership.
Pisinski said the size was ideal for the Italian sports car brand, of which he only expected to sell a handful of cars each month.
“Ferrari, as you can imagine, is a very limited selling point,” he said. The company expected to sell four cars a month, service about the same amount of vehicles and have 10 employees in the building.
Golden Valley City Planner Myles Campbell said due to the “clustering” of the dealerships on a single property, planning and engineering staff didn’t have concerns about adding Ferrari sales.
“This is a luxury brand that is being paired with other luxury vehicle brands on-site, so rather than being a completely new clientele or customer base that is being drawn to the site, we would expect more of the same types of customers,” Campbell said.
Requests return to Planning Commission
While the council members were in support of the Ferrari dealership and approved it 5-0, other upgrades to the dealership complex weren’t as welcomed. Plans included expansion of the Audi dealership, parking lot reconfigurations, construction of a safety building for battery storage and changes to unloading traffic operations.
Particularly unpopular was a request to move unloading operations and inventory storage to the complex’s small southern lot on the other side of Wayzata Boulevard. The lot abuts a St. Louis Park neighborhood and the Westwood Hills Nature Center. Those plans were returned to the Planning Commission to find a new solution.
Homeowners and a representative from the nature center expressed concern over the proposals to the south lot at a neighborhood meeting March 1. They argued that the removal of mature trees, an influx of large vehicles, and the relocation of a nearby stormwater pond would reduce screening, increase noise and potentially increase flooding to nearby homes.
In a letter to the city, Pisinski addressed the feedback from the neighborhood meeting and offered amendments to Carousel’s requests. He told the council that he would be willing to return to the Planning Commission to find “a program that works on all sides” on the southern lot. Still, Pisinski remained firm on his desire to move loading and offloading to the southern lot, saying it was important for “safety, and our ability to operate correctly.” He reported a remarkable growth at the dealerships, including a tripling in sales from cars and services that necessitated a change to unloading operations.
Councilmember Kimberly Sanberg agreed that the changes to the southern lot could have impacts on the St. Louis Park residents. Councilmember Maurice Harris said he believed the city and Carousel could “find some good middle ground” if the request was returned to the commission.
Councilmember Gillian Rosenquist mentioned concern about the truck activity near Wayzata Boulevard, a road taken by many teens to get to Hopkins High School. Pisinski said effort was taken to stop drivers attempting to offload on Wayzata Boulevard and “force” them onto dealership property.
“We view it as just a dangerous situation and not good for anyone,” he said.