A deal has been struck to sell a longtime Lawrence auto dealership that likely will open the door for a Chrysler franchise to return to the city.
Manhattan-based Briggs Auto has reached a deal to purchase Lawrence-based Jim Clark Motors, 2121 W. 29th Terrace. In a related deal, Lawrence-based Crown Automotive has agreed to purchase Jim Clark Motors’ Volkswagen franchise. Both deals are set to be finalized Oct. 1.
“This is a deal we wanted to do,” said Junior Brubeck, president of Jim Clark Motors. “The deal was the best employment opportunity I could find for our employees. Most will have an opportunity to continue working at one of the two dealerships.
“And I’m very confident there will be another Chrysler store here before long. That will be a very good deal for the people who own Chrysler products.”
Russell Briggs, president of the Briggs group, said discussions already have begun to bring a full-line Chrysler dealership back to Lawrence.
“We feel like we have it all set up to bring Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram back,” Briggs said. “We expect to have it in a few months.”
Jim Clark Motors lost its Chrysler franchise last year as part of Chrysler’s bankruptcy proceedings. But Brubeck, who has been with Jim Clark Motors for 54 years, said that loss did not force the sale.
“I’m selling because after 54 years I’m ready to sell it,” Brubeck said. “It has been a successful 54 years because a great group of customers and employees have made it that way. But I tell you, there’s an awful lot of fish out there to be caught, and I want to get to doing that.”
Jim Clark Motors has about 30 employees. Both Briggs and a representative with Crown Automotive said they intend to bring many of Brubeck’s employees to their dealership.
“We’re looking to add people in both service and sales,” said Dale Backs, general manager for Crown Automotive. “We’re real excited. We think Volkswagen is a real up-and-coming brand.”
Backs said Crown will continue to serve as a Toyota dealership as well.
Briggs also will continue to have Subaru and Nissan dealerships in Lawrence. Briggs said his company plans major expansions in the Lawrence Auto Plaza.
In addition to buying the property that houses Jim Clark Motors, Briggs said he’s finalizing a deal to purchase the former Jack Ellena Honda site at 2957 Four Wheel Drive after it became available when the Honda dealership moved to a new location along Iowa Street.
Briggs said that site likely would be home to a new collision repair and service center.
“We really like the Lawrence market,” said Briggs, who also operates dealerships in Manhattan, Junction City and Topeka.