The zoning board approved an application for changes to the former Town & Country on Route 202/206 that will now be turned into an Audi dealership.
“This will do Bridgewater much better in the future,” said zoning board member Lee Schapiro at the Jan. 15 zoning board meeting. “It is better than what is already there.”
The plans for the property are to create an Audi dealership, owned by Chris Preziosi and his brother, Albert.
“This is a family business we have owned for 20 years,” Chris Preziosi said. “We have Nissan, Toyota, Honda and Subaru dealerships throughout New Jersey. The dealership was for sale, and my brother and I are about to acquire the majority share of it with the current owner.”
Currently, there is an empty shell of a building on the middle of the site, surrounded by pavement and a cell tower in the back, said Beth Kenderdine, engineer for the applicant. She said the whole property fronts on Route 202/206, and the applicant’s plan is to demolish about half of the building and do some rebuilding on the property.
The rear of the property, Kenderdine said, is going to remain mostly as is, with storage of vehicles in the rear lot and some customer parking.
As for deliveries, Preziosi said they will mostly be made at the company’s Bernardsville location because it is a quarry area and there is more space to clean and prepare cars before they are put in the showroom in Bridgewater.
“Once in a while, we may make deliveries at the store in Bridgewater, but that will not be on an every day basis,” he said. “Parts will be delivered in the mornings, right around the opening.”
“Prep for cars when they come in will be done in Bernardsville,” he added. “There will be prep in Bridgewater if a customer comes in and wants to buy right away.”
And, Preziosi said, there will be no deliveries on Route 202/206, and he will inform all delivery trucks that they are not to stop on the highway.
As for lighting, Kenderdine said the lights in the rear of the property will remain on throughout the night for security purposes, but they back up to the woods next to Route 287, and will not be seen on any main roads.
“The rest of the lights will turn off when the dealership closes,” she said.
In addition, Kenderdine said, there will be additional trees planted along the property lines to the north and south, but the back of the property is fully wooded, and none of those trees will be cut down.
The design for the property is a two-story structure, a total of 34,691 square feet. The showroom is two stories high, but there is only one floor of a showroom, and it will have nine cars and a delivery bay.
In addition, there will be a service area to accommodate six cars, and space for three technicians and valet. A waiting area will accommodate about 10 people, and the remaining first floor will include ancillary facilities and more.
This design criteria comes from Audi itself, which has standards for how its dealerships can look.
Board member Carls Humenick questioned whether the design of the dealership has to conform to these specific standards, or if the board can request changes.
Jessica Schwab, a network development manager with Audi, said the company does dictate the way the buildings should look to conform with its brand.
“Audi has specific criteria for its facilities,” she said. “We are trying to grow the business in the United States, and are doing very well, and part of that, we feel, is branding. We are very specific, down to tiles and lights.”
“We like to consider our facilities a museum like a showcase, and our cars are the art,” she added.
Board attorney Lawrence Vastola said he does not think the board should require any changes in the type of showcase and building the dealership has because this is already a conditional use on Route 202/206.
“The use is permitted, and I don’t think the court would uphold if the board wanted to change how they designed the building,” he said. “We could discuss shrubbery, lighting and conditions could be imposed, but the way the building looks it looks.”
As for the business itself, it will be open six days a week and closed on Sundays, Preziosi said. Service begins at 7 a.m. during the week, with sales opening at 9 a.m., and the business closing at 9 p.m., with the exception of Friday and Saturday when it will close at 6 p.m.
“And service on Saturday is more of a need basis, maybe there will be less hours,” he said. “It depends on how busy they are.”
Preziosi said there will be about 12 to 15 employees.
In addition, Preziosi said there will be no damaged vehicles on the site, any that are brought in will be delivered to the Bernardsville site for repairs, and there will be no body work done in Bridgewater.
The application was unanimously approved by the board, pending some discussions with the township planner concerning landscaping.