SANATOGA PA – For the second time within 20 months, a car dealership located at the heart of the Sanatoga village business district - 2148 E. High St., Pottstown PA – has closed due to what its owners said were “economic” conditions.
The Driven Autoplex officially closed 17 days ago, on June 24 (2011; Friday), according to notices posted on glass doors at all three entrances to its showroom. “We appreciate all of our customer support, but, sadly, for economic reasons, we are closing for business,” the printed notice announced.
Similar wording used back in October 2008, on notices very similar to the ones taped up by Driven Autoplex, announced the closing of its predecessor at the same location, the Norco Auto Group.
The Driven Autoplex website is no longer available online. On its LinkedIn page, however, the company said it served “the Pottstown region and neighboring Philadelphia, Lancaster and Allentown, with quality used cars and trucks … something for every taste, and every need.” It also said it provided “a full line of services … from auto repair performed by expert mechanics, to car loan assistance.
Regarding its service customers, the head-high door notices mentioned that Driven Autoplex Service Manager Joe Tareila had relocated to the Anthony’s Chrysler-Jeep dealership in Elverson PA, and “welcomes” business at that location. No mention was made of other former employees.
Although its lots were never filled with inventory the way Norco’s once were, Driven Autoplex through mid-June displayed and offered for sale several pre-owned luxury automobiles and other higher-priced used vehicles. On occasion it also accepted and attempted to sell vehicles consigned by private parties, such as a recreational camper several months ago, and more recently a truck, boat and boat trailer.
The Driven Autoplex closing represents the latest of several businesses that have shuttered their doors in what only a few years ago was Sanatoga’s booming main commercial area.
- A Rite Aid Pharmacy, located east of the car dealership, closed in June 2010. Some critics claim it was a victim of that retailer’s rapid expansion. The building has been vacant since, and now is being marketed for sublease by the Colliers International real estate firm.
- A Hollywood Video store, which sold and rented VHS and DVD movies and video games, and
- An InkStop business supply store both went out of business in October 2009 as a result of bankruptcy filings by their corporate parents. They also remain vacant, and are being marketed by Metro Commercial Real Estate Inc.
Sanatoga village center is still seen by many businesses as a desirable location. Just last week the Lower Pottsgrove (PA) Township Board of Commissioners granted approval to the final land development plan of Cilluffo Property Holdings LLC of Blue Bell PA to build an Italian-style restaurant and pizzeria on vacant land fronting East High Street immediately west of Rite Aid.
Colliers notes that areas surrounding the trading zone are densely populated; more than 7,000 people live within one mile of the nearby intersection of East High Street and North Pleasant View Road, and more than 85,000 people live within five miles, the radius that most retailers consider to be the extent of their customer base. The average household income, Colliers adds, is above average and ranges from $73,000 to $80,000 annually. Traffic passing the corner can sometimes exceed 19,000 vehicles a day.
There was no indication, in the posted notices or elsewhere, of what would become of the 24,800-square-foot dealership building located on 6.39 acres. Although devoid of workers, its showroom on Sunday (July 10) displayed several vintage-model cars. Showroom furnishings appeared to be in place.
Montgomery County’s property records database, last updated July 3, reported the structure was built in 1975; was last sold in June 1988 for $967,000; and currently was assessed at a value of $1,934,740. Its listed owner is Stuarts Inc., 175 S. Pleasant View Rd., Pottstown PA, according to the county.