VISTA — A new Honda dealership is coming to Vista. Behind the scenes, this was a work in progress which took about nine years. Norm Reeves Honda Vista is planting its roots where the Vista Entertainment Center stands at West Vista Way. The bowling and entertainment complex closed last spring.
Kevin Ham, the director of development for the city of Vista, said the city started working with the manufacturer years ago demonstrating that Vista could be an ideal location. Early on, one of the original locations which was the most sought after was the big vacant lot by the Food 4 Less Store on Hacienda Drive.
“In talking with them, we showed them where we thought a site might work, and why it would make sense from a customer standpoint for sales and service,” Ham said. “We had the manufacturer interested, and then we went through that little thing called a recession which impacted manufacturers as a whole and many retailers — so things kind of slowed down for a while, but over that period of nine years, we continued the conversation with the manufacturer, and they became interested.”
Ham explained that the day before Norm Reeves Honda was selected by Honda as the owner of the new Honda store, the primary site by Food 4 Less was acquired by another party. It wasn’t available for the Honda dealership any longer. So, the next goal was finding more than six acres within the general vicinity for the new dealership. It was also important to stay close to the freeway.
“We had heard that the Vista Entertainment Center wanted to close so that made one piece of the 6-acre puzzle,” said Ham, adding that the business had been in the family for years.
North County Ford also played an important role.
According to Ham, North County Ford owned a piece of property and a piece that the city of Vista sold it to bring an additional auto dealership to town.
“North County Ford was working to try to bring in a new auto dealership generally in this location,” he said. “For it to work, it was necessary to piece together the North County Ford property, the Vista Entertainment Center property and the Bittner’s Restaurant Supply to get the over six acres that Norm Reeves needed for the new dealership.”
Ham said the buildings in these lots, including the Vista Entertainment Center, will be coming down soon. Gas and electrical needs to be torn out before the buildings are removed —a lengthy process. SDG&E has completed its portion. The electrical was slated for February.
“Shortly thereafter, they will be tearing down the buildings,” he said.
Ham suspects the dealership will open its doors either at the end of 2018 or at the beginning of 2019. Ham believes the Honda dealership will further enhance the city of Vista.
“The dealership will provide another amenity for our community, so when residents want to take their vehicles in or purchase a car locally, they will be able to go into this dealership,” he said.
North County Ford will be a stone’s throw away from the Honda Dealership.
“In talking to several industry experts, when you locate dealerships next to each other like that, sales increase by about 5 percent,” Ham said. “I think there will be a benefit to the dealership next door and then also the benefit to Honda.”
Richard Fisler, vice president of Facilities and Information Technology for the C.A.R. Group, said they have completed the design process for Norm Reeves Honda Vista.
“We’re going through all of the planning and the permitting process for the project,” Fisler said. “We were hoping to start the project in the first quarter, but it looks like it will be at the beginning of the second quarter, and it will be an eight- to a nine-month construction project.”
He also added that the building would be roughly 46,000 square feet. In addition to having a new a used car lot, it will also house a large service department equipped with modern technology.
“With all the cities that we deal with, the city of Vista has just been fantastic to work with — we feel we have a great partnership between the city and the community.”