Mazda dealership will fill former Saturn location in Franklin

June 11, 2013

Mazda dealership will fill former Saturn location in Franklin

By Kevin Walters
The TENNESSEAN

FRANKLIN – A new Mazda dealership will be pulling into the empty space once occupied by the shuttered Saturn of Cool Springs in Franklin.

Nelson Mazda, which operates dealerships on Broadway and Hickory Hollow, has bought the former Saturn dealership at 7104 South Springs Drive near CoolSprings Galleria facing Mallory Lane.

Empty for three years, the 23,000-square-foot Saturn store and service department will be renovated and reopened as a Mazda dealership with a new showroom as part of what will be about a $5 million project, said Chad Custer, a managing partner with Nelson Mazda. When opened, it will employ about 40 people.

“It’s a very consumer-friendly environment,” Custer said. “It’s a very transparent buying experience.”

For Williamson County car buyers, the purchase adds another player in a market that’s seen its share of new faces and shakeups in recent years.

For Nelson Mazda, the move into Franklin caps the latest expansion. The company opened a new facility next to The Tennessean on Broadway in 2011. Early this year, the company bought the former Mazda of Cool Springs dealership at 200 Comtide Court but shut down that operation in order to move to the former Saturn facility.

Custer sees demand for Mazda among Williamson County drivers and plans a new, up-to-date dealership at the five-acre site.

“The growth is there. We have a facility that will serve Mazda and the Franklin community,” Custer said.

The turnover is just the latest among Franklin car dealers. The biggest recent change occured in late 2011, Alexander Automotive, which was the state’s largest auto dealer in Tennessee, sold 15 Middle Tennessee stores to a Florida company. Universal Kia — formerly known as Carnival Kia — opened a location on Murfreesboro Road in 2011.

Custer hopes to get approval for temporary occupancy in the former two-story Saturn dealership building by July.

Contact Kevin Walters at (615) 771-5472 or kewalters@tennessean.com. On Twitter @thekevinwalters

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