Tony's Nissan tentatively has been sold to Lawrence car dealer Jim Ellena, who is operating the business pending approval of the deal from Nissan.
John Ellena, Jim Ellena's brother, said today that Tony's Nissan, 2829 Iowa, currently is being operated by the Jim Ellena dealership under a management agreement that will remain in effect until Nissan gives formal approval of the franchise sale. Parties to the transaction hope to receive that approval by Feb. 15, he said.
If the transaction goes through, it will close the door on a car dealership that has been in business in Lawrence for more than 20 years. Casey Vangemeren, owner of Tony's, said he bought the dealership three years ago from his father, Anthonie Vangemeren, who started the business in 1970.
Jim Ellena could not be reached for comment about the transaction. His dealership, which is located around the corner from Tony's, at 2112 W. 29th Ter., owns the local franchises for Buick, Jeep-Eagle and Subaru.
John Ellena said that if the deal goes through, the Nissan franchise would be incorporated into the Jim Ellena dealership and moved to its lot.
Meanwhile, John Smith, owner of the Toyota franchise at 2300 W. 29th Ter., one door west of the Jim Ellena lot, said he plans to move his dealership into the current Tony's Nissan facility, which he purchased late last year. Smith said his plans are contingent on the sale of the Nissan franchise gaining final approval.
The building and lot currently occupied by Smith's Toyota franchise are owned by Jim Ellena. John Ellena declined comment on his brother's plans for that property.
Vangemeren declined to discuss his plans for the future until the sale of his dealership is final. He said, however, that he plans to stay in Lawrence.
John Ellena is general manager of Ellena Honda, a separate dealership at 2957 Four Wheel Dr. That dealership is owned by Jack Ellena, the Ellena brothers' father.