COVER PHOTO: A car lot in the Price Chopper parking lot? Silver Lining Motors will be selling used cars there by the end of the year. Currently Acura is storing its inventory there. Photo by Adam Vescovi
Silver Lining Motors to take over Berbiglia location on 103rd Street
By Brad Lucht
Billy George, founder of Z-Trip and son of Olathe Kia owner Bill George, is taking over the old Berbiglia building in front of the Price Chopper on 103rd and is converting it into a used car showroom and car lot.
He has had his eye on the location for some time.
George points to recent improvements in the area, including Chipotle and Panera to the west, updates to Watt’s Mill Plaza to the south, and the city’s purchase and expected demolition of 103 Square to the east.
“So really, this is the last, just terrible piece (of property) along there,” George observed. “I’m really proud to be able to develop it. It’s a great opportunity for what we are trying to do.”
Which is to sell or lease late model used cars. Silver Lining Motors will specialize in cars that are a maximum of three to four years old. George feels that new cars have grown so costly that they are out of reach for many people.
“All the brands that you see along 103rd will be represented,” George said. “This will be an opportunity to buy those used as well as lease them at a low payment. We think we’re sitting at a really nice niche in the marketplace.”
George feels his business will be a boon to the neighborhood. He expects the sales tax revenue that gets generated from leases will be significant.
He reached an agreement to purchase the property last fall, but had to wait until the City Council approved changes to the zoning and Red Bridge Area Plan before moving forward on the actual purchase.
A History in the Business
George’s father, Bill George, has been a car dealer since 1950. Beginning when he was five years old, he fondly remembers going to work with his father every Saturday, and every day during the summer.
“I did every job possible with the dealership, with the exception of, I can change oil, but that’s about where my mechanical skills end,” George laughed. “I’ve been in the car business, in one form or another, literally since I could walk.”
The City Planning & Development staff report noted that the majority of the site is within a FEMA floodway. Two years ago the parking lot was under three to four feet of water, with the water lapping at the front door of the Berbiglia building. Just down the road, Molle Volkswagon incurred several million dollars of flood damage to their inventory.
This has not deterred George.
“We don’t think we will have a problem,” he said.
He plans on re-grading the parking lot so that water will flow to the west side of the building near a loading dock which will essentially function as a very large French drain.
“The nice thing about cars, we can move them,” he said. “We’ll see.”
Fruit Stand Forced to Move
Konrad Feiffeuf, owner of Everyday Produce Market, is distraught over the sale. He has been selling fresh fruit and produce out of his tents at the edge of the Berbiglia parking lot for 24 years. Soon after the City Council approved George’s development plan, Feiffeuf received a letter giving him 45 days to vacate the property.
“We have nowhere else to go,” Feiffeuf lamented. “If I had been given notice this winter I could have made other plans.” As it stands now, he must be gone by June 21.
He is focused on finding a new location. The old Wendy’s building at 7610 Wornall is a possibility, but nothing has been worked out yet. He urges customers to monitor the Everyday Produce Market Facebook page for updates.
George expects to begin demolition in the next two weeks, weather permitting. He hopes to have Silver Lining Motors open by the end of the year. In the meantime, expect to see cars in the lot. Acura is using it as temporary storage while they work on their own parking lot.