The boarded-up former Wal-Mart building in Gilroy, Calif., vacant for six years, will be home to a new RV dealership.
See Grins RV, located in San Martin, will move its primary lot to the former Wal-Mart property at 7900 Arroyo Circle just north of the Gilroy Unified School District offices possibly by this summer, said dealership owner Randy Scianna, The Gilroy Dispatch reported.
Scianna said the dealership would house 300 to 350 RVs as soon as June 24. The start date, however, would depend on his progress repairing the often-vandalized building.
Scianna said he would have to conduct significant electrical repairs, replace rooftop air conditioning units and install a new security system.
“There’s just a lot of work to be done. That’s the bottom line,” he said.
City Administrator Tom Haglund confirmed the deal in an e-mail sent to the Gilroy City Council Monday afternoon.
“We are particularly excited that See Grins will be occupying this vacant site which will greatly improve and enhance the area,” Haglund wrote.
The 126,000-square-foot former Wal-Mart retail store closed in 2005 when a new, 219,570-square-foot Wal-Mart Supercenter opened at the Pacheco Pass Shopping Center at 7155 Camino Arroyo. Since then, the property has sat barren, and plans to open a go-cart racetrack there fell through in August 2010.
See Grins is an exclusive Heartland RV dealer that carries new and used model RVs, including travel trailers, fifth-wheels and toy haulers, according to its website. In television advertisements promoting the dealership, a smiling horse says with a twang, “RV with me and see grins with satisfaction.
Scianna said his San Martin location opened three years ago and he plans to keep it running despite moving his main lot to Gilroy. He said he started looking for a new location several months ago because he feared California’s high-speed rail project would gut adjacent land and cause sales to plummet.
Despite the lagging economy, See Grins’ sales soared 84% above the nationwide industry average last year, which itself grew by 42%, Scianna said.
The Gilroy location will include a barbecue area, petting zoo, rental and accessory departments and virtual reality RV displays, which will be shown inside the building, Scianna said.
He said it would be the largest indoor RV showroom west of the Mississippi River.
“Our business has just, quite frankly, exploded, Scianna said. “People are out buying RVs. They are tired of being depressed in these economic times.”
Mayor Al Pinheiro said the dealership not only would make that area more appealing visually, but could also boost Gilroy financially.
“It’s exciting stuff. He’s going to bring an area that’s been blighted for a long time and clean it up,” Pinheiro said. “He will also bring some sales tax to the city.”
Councilman Bob Dillon called the property ideal for an RV location, and said the move could be a sign that Gilroy’s economic state was improving.
“We could be turning around here. It’s encouraging,” Dillon said. “It’s synergistic. It’s great they’re going to have a big business come to town.”
Scianna said See Grins eventually would contribute roughly $1 million in sales taxes to Gilroy each year.
Dan Hudson, of Hudson Jones Commercial Real Estate Property, which owns the old Wal-Mart, and Scianna declined to say how long the deal was for, simply stating it was “a long-term lease.”
“We’ve really made a commitment to that building, that shopping center and that community,” Scianna said.
When asked if he was happy to finally sign an agreement with a tenant, Hudson replied, “Oh yeah, I think that goes without saying.”