By Noel Smith
The owner of Santa Cruz Nissan, Don Groppetti, wants to move his dealership from Santa Cruz and build a 12,550-square-foot complex on the southwest corner of the intersection of Soquel Drive and 41st Avenue. The property is located at 3820 Soquel Drive, across from Ocean Honda, and 2755 41st Ave. across from the Safeway, Best Buy, Home Depot and Redwood Square shopping center.
Groppetti is an award-winning car dealer located in Visalia and has operated a Nissan dealership for a year at 1605 Soquel Ave. in Santa Cruz. The Groppetti Automotive Family has been selling cars in the San Joaquin Valley since 1993 and runs seven dealerships in Tulare and Kings counties, plus one motorcycle store.
The Nissan project has been in the pipeline for about 18 months. Joseph and Karen Calcagno sold the L-shaped 1.78 acres property fronting on both Soquel Drive and 41st Ave. to Groppetti in February 2017 for $5.44 million. Groppetti now plans to buy additional property from Norman Bei, which just became available and is currently occupied by King’s Paint & Paper at 2851 41st Ave. and the You Do It Car Wash at 3822 Soquel Ave.
A community meeting was held on Wednesday, May 31 at which Groppetti and his team from JP Marketing presented the plans for the dealership to about 50 attendees and heard from a number of them who opposed the project.
The number one objection voiced was about added traffic estimated by the county to be 600 trips per day.
The current total daily traffic along that stretch of Soquel Drive in 2015, according to the Regional Traffic Commission (RTC), was about 20,000. According to traffic data from 2010, the traffic count was about the same, which was before Ocean Honda moved to its current location on Soquel Drive.
As traffic mitigations, the county report proposes the dealership pay $30,500 as its share toward the $1.5 million cost of two as yet unscheduled improvements, a traffic light at Soquel Drive and Robertson Street and a southbound left-turn pocket at Soquel Drive and Porter Street. In addition Groppetti talked about paying to extend a right turn lane 130 feet on Soquel Drive at 41st Avenue where Kings Paint is now, and for sidewalks extending 300 feet past his property in either direction along Soquel Drive and 41st Avenue.
Groppetti said he plans to invest upwards of $10 million at the site in building the new Nissan dealership that will have about 40 employees when it opens in 2018. He also talked about the internships he provides for high schools in Visalia, awarding a car to a student with perfect attendance for the past three years, and his support for the local the Boys & Girls Club.
Santa Cruz County’s economic development manager, Andy Constable, sees the development as a way to revitalize that section of 41st Avenue.
Proponents of the project say that it will be creating jobs for residents, generating tax revenues for county programs, while adding little to the traffic along this major east-west county corridor.
Here are the next steps for the Santa Cruz Nissan proposal to build a dealership in Soquel. (Source: Santa Cruz Nissan)
- June 8: Submit new application to Santa Cruz County Planning Department.
- June 12: Notice of preparation released for focused environmental impact report.
- July 20: Public review of focused environmental impact report.
- Sept. 3: End of 45-day public comment period on focused environmental impact report.
- Oct. 11: Planning Commission review.
- Nov. 14: Board of Supervisors action.