Audi Calabasas to expand, revving up to keep pace with business



GROWING UP, NOT OUT—Due to the small amount of land available, the Audi dealership in Calabasas plans to expand by building a three-story parking structure. BOBBY CURTIS/Acorn Newspapers

GROWING UP, NOT OUT—Due to the small amount of land available, the Audi dealership in Calabasas plans to expand by building a three-story parking structure. BOBBY CURTIS/Acorn Newspapers

Car dealerships fronting the freeway on Calabasas Road don’t have much room. They’re pressed up against a hillside and have minimal street parking in front, so there’s limited space to display their wares.

Audi Calabasas, one of five Calabasas Road dealerships, is in talks with the city to remodel the facility and increase the amount of space for show cars and visitor parking.

At a community forum last week, city staff and representatives from Audi Calabasas presented plans for a parking structure and expansion to the existing 35,000-square-foot commercial building. The project is expected to cost between $20 million and $30 million.

Glenn Michitsch, senior planner for the City of Calabasas, said the work will add about 107,000 square feet to the facility, which sits on a 3.65-acre lot. Most of that will be the threestory parking structure.

“All the auto dealerships are on hillside lots. How do you get parking of inventory on lots on that hillside? You’ve got to put them in structures,” Michitsch said. “In an area like the Thousand Oaks Auto Mall, you have building and all this area with surface lots, but you can’t do that on a hillside.”

Sam Stone, president of United Development Services, the project’s developer, said the plan also includes renovation of the existing building, which is 30 years old.

“It’s more inventory parking, more customer parking, more capacity for service bays, more parts capacity, more sales capacity too,” Stone said. “Right now the building is pretty old. It needs a lot of upgrades. Audi Corporate has a certain image program that they follow. You go to Audi anywhere in the country, they look the same.”

There are still numerous steps to complete before construction can start. The plan has to be approved by the city’s architectural review panel, the traffic and transportation commission, and the planning commission before it will go before the City Council.

Stone said he expects the process to take about a year. Once construction starts, it should take about 18 months for completion.

Calabasas generally requires two public forums for development projects, but in June 2017 the City Council said only one would be needed for this project.

“We’re not looking at a virgin site. There’s an existing building that they’re expanding on,” Michitsch said. “It’s also a car dealership. It’s a little more intricate to take on design advice about car dealerships because you’re dealing with a corporate entity and a set of city standards and opinions as to what design should be, so there’s that whole dichotomy.”

Michitsch said Audi is one of two dealerships on Calabasas Road applying for an update, but it may be the only one that pursues it.

“The other (application) is for a (planned) Nissan auto dealership that’s submitted, but we haven’t heard from them in a long time,” Michitsch said. “My understanding is it’s probably not going to move forward, but I don’t know 100 percent because they’ve never gotten back to me.”