The abandoned Hyundai of North Augusta dealership has been acquired by a Greer, S.C.-based auto group to take up where the previous franchisee left off.
One of the Greenville-Spartanburg, S.C., metro area’s largest auto dealers is getting the abandoned Hyundai of North Augusta car lot back on track.
Mark Escude of Greer, S.C.-based MCE Automotive Inc., which owns Hyundai, Kia, Nissan and Toyota dealerships in the Greenville area, acquired the unfinished 16,000-square-foot building from Texas auto dealer Alan Reuber.
You may recall that after a fit of stops and starts, Reuber abandoned the nearly two-thirds complete project near the intersection of U.S. Highway 1 and Interstate 520 after running into financing troubles in 2018.
Escude did not return a message seeking comment on the acquisition, and public records on the purchase of the 9.5-acre tract were not immediately available from Aiken County.
Augusta-based Sherman & Hemstreet Real Estate Co. said the property was assessed at $7.6 million when it was unsuccessfully put up for auction in March.
Escude’s bid apparently was one of the “several” offers made by out-of-town dealers. The Hyundai dealership – which would be the Augusta-Aiken metro area’s second – was originally supposed to open in January 2019 with an inventory of nearly 200 new cars.
With the bulk of the property’s extensive site preparation work completed – the land required extensive grading and utility relocation – finishing the dealership would likely occur sometime by the middle of next year.
MORE WHEELING AND DEALING: It’s not exactly news anymore, but in case you missed it, the Acura of Augusta dealership was acquired over the summer by the Jim Hudson Automotive Group, which has relocated the lot from Gordon Highway to 3520 Washington Road.
The new site was previously home to Jim Hudson Lexus, which last year moved into a new building at Washington and Pleasant Home roads. The Acura franchise was previously owned by Stokes-Hodges Automotive Group, which bought Satcher Motor Co. in Graniteville, S.C., late last year.
HARD TO PLEASE: Let’s say you had a negative experience at a dealership – or any business for that matter. How likely are you to leave a negative online review?
According to consumer website RealBusinessSavings.com, Georgians are some of the most vocal Americans when it comes to publishing a lackluster review based on poor products and services.
The site’s survey of 5,500 people found 39% of Georgians are likely to publish a negative online review at sites such as Yelp and Tripadvisor, or through e-commerce sites such as Amazon. South Carolinians are just as likely to spread the word, at 39% as well.
Florida, at 42%, boasted the highest percentage of consumers willing to dole out criticism, followed by Oklahoma at 41%.
Just over half of Georgia business owners said they would be willing to defend their product or service, and 22% said they would be prepared to sue for defamation if the review was inaccurate and damaged their business.
While RealBusinessSavings acknowledges some negative reviews are the result of trolls and rival business owners trying to besmirch their competition, all reviews should be taken seriously.
“Interacting with your customers online will help your business achieve a greater online presence, especially in a time where we are so reliant on online reviews to determine where we spend our hard-earned cash,” the firm’s Mark Hallam said. “As a consumer, however, it’s only fair to ensure your reviews and ratings are factual and beneficial to other customers in a way that does not defame the business or service.”
In other words, don’t be a jerk.
THE END IN NIGH: Every day Georgia Power gets a little closer to finishing its new reactors at Plant Vogtle. This past week, the company announced the completion of “cold hydro testing” at Unit 3, a key milestone that readies the reactor for the final test before fuel assemblies are loaded.
The 7,000-employee construction site is approximately 88% completed, which will create 800 permanent jobs at the two Westinghouse reactors – America’s first new nuclear units in more than 30 years.
Regulatory in-service dates for Units 3 and 4 are November 2021 and November 2022, respectively. Once complete, the four-reactor station will be the nation’s largest nuclear power plant.
Georgia Power CEO Paul Bowers said the reactors will create “a carbon-free asset that will provide clean energy for our customers, our state and the country for the next 60 to 80 years.”
The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission has so far issued operator licenses to 62 Vogtle employees to run the reactors once they are ready to go live.
ATOMIC ASSISTANCE: Helping support those five dozen licensed reactor operators are a host of maintenance employees and technicians trained at Augusta Technical College’s Nuclear Engineering Technology program.
Created in 2011 to help supply skilled workers to Vogtle and Savannah River Site, five of its students recently submitted a video to the Center for Energy Workforce Development that highlights what they do.
The program graduated its first cohort in 2012 and remains the only college in Georgia offering a Nuclear Uniform Curriculum Program managed by the Nuclear Energy Institute.
The video, by the way, was created by interns in the associate degree program: Michael Aban, Sandy Segrist, Tyrese Johnson, Seth Warner and Maria O’Neal.
The two-year program continues to prove you don’t need a four-year liberal arts degree to land a good job. Save your money and buy a house.
SPEAKING OF HOUSING: Here’s some interesting facts on home sales in the Augusta-Aiken market, according to the National Association of Realtors.
The average area home buyer is 38 and has an income of $73,730. Nearly three-quarters – 74.6% – of buyers are white; 17.9% are African-American and 2.5% are Asian. About 53.2% of all buyers are families with both parents in the household. Singles represented 25.9% of buyers, with the remainder being single-parent households.
The highest percentage of buyers, 46%, are relocating from within their county of residence, while 40.1% are moving from a different state and 11.6% are coming here from another Georgia market.
The largest share of homes sold – 20.7% – were built between 2000 and 2009. Homes constructed between 1980 and 1999 had the next highest percentage, at 17.9%. Only 7% of homes sold were built before 1939.
Single-family homes dominated the sales category, with 91.4%. The rest was split among duplexes and condos.
About a third of buyers, 29.8%, had a bachelor’s degree; only 4.1% of buyers had less than a high school diploma. It pays to stay in school, kids.
RISING RENTS: It’s no wonder apartment rents are rising in Augusta, given the number of newly built “class A” apartment complexes in recent years and the plethora of older complexes undergoing some form of upgrade.
Business insurance site AdvisorSmith.com says its latest study on the “Cities Where Rents Are Rising and Falling the Most” puts Augusta at No. 10 on the increasing list.
The firm said rents for everything from studio apartments to four-bedroom units in metro Augusta increased 9.6% in the last year, which is 10 times higher than the average national rent increase.
The weighted-average rent in the Augusta area jumped from $977 a month in 2019 to $1,032 in September, outpacing Georgia markets such as Conyers, No. 12; Newnan, No. 50; and Gainesville, No. 61.
One would assume a California city would top the list, but AdvisorSmith’s report says the No. 1 rent-growth market is Stockbridge, Ga., where lease rates rose from $1,300 to $1,396 – a 12.5% increase. East Point, Ga., came in at No. 5, with a gain from $1,159 to $1,239, a 10.7% increase.
The cities where rents have fallen the most are oil-dependent markets: Odessa, Texas, down 34.7%; Midland, Texas, down 30.9%; and Williston, N.D., down 24.1%.
“In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, many Americans are making changes to their school, work and housing situations, and these shifts have caused major changes in residential rent prices in some cities,” AdvisorSmith said.
TRUCKING TREES: Springfield, Ore.-based Timber Products Co. announced this past week that it has acquired 20 acres in Thomson to “serve as the Eastern hub” of its rapidly growing forestry operations.
The site, a section of the former Georgia-Pacific plant that was closed after a major fire last year, has 75,000 square feet of indoor storage space and includes a maintenance shop, driver’s lounge, truck wash and tarping station.
The site, expected to open in January, also has access to the Savannah port via CSX’s coast-to-coast rail line.
Timber Products operates 160 flatbed trucks in the lower 48 states. It plans to increase its fleet size to 500 trucks within the next five years.
The facility will serve as home to 20 short-haul and long-haul trucks with a capacity to transload three rail cars per week.
“We are excited to expand our operations further into the Southeast U.S. This will enable us to grow our logistics operation and expand our truck fleet in the East,” Timber Products Vice President Tom Gennarelli said.