NAUGATUCK — There has to be a better way.
That is what one local car dealership believes about doing business in Naugatuck. The dealership, A Better Way Wholesale Autos, is working to find a new way to sell its used cars while keeping its business in the borough.
A Better Way, headquartered at 423 Rubber Ave., currently has its inventory of more than 600 cars spread out in five different locations on Rubber Avenue and Old Firehouse Road. The dealership has proposed building a new facility on two vacant lots in the Naugatuck Industrial Park.
The Board of Mayor and Burgesses reviewed the proposal this week and voted unanimously to forward it to the municipal land use boards. The land use boards must approve the plan before construction can begin. If approved, the dealership will pay $80,000 for the last two remaining undeveloped lots in the Industrial Park.
“We plan to build a state-of-the art facility that will cost a few million dollars and will be quite an investment in the (Naugatuck) Valley,” said A Better Way owner Joe Gorbecki. “We are looking for a long-term investment into Naugatuck.”
Gorbecki said he bought the dealership in 2008 when it was selling 30 cars per month. Now, he said, the company sells between 300 and 500 cars a month.
“We are the highest volume independent wholesale dealer in Connecticut, if not New England,” he said.
The problem with doing so much business is a lack of space to park cars. The dealership had a lease with General DataComm to park hundreds of cars at its vacant parking lot at 6 Rubber Ave., but the borough bought the GDC property last year, and has been trying to get A Better Way to move.
A Better Way has also had ongoing discussions with the state Department of Motor Vehicles over whether it can park cars on the lot. DMV regulations state that vehicles cannot be offered for sale on a lot that is not licensed. So, A Better Way has not been able to show cars at the GDC lot, and has to move them from the parking lot to its headquarters about a quarter-mile down the road when customers want to see them.
The process has increased traffic congestion on Rubber Avenue, which Gorbecki and borough officials said they want to alleviate.
Ron Pugliese, CEO of the Naugatuck Economic Development Corporation, said the new facility in the industrial park will take about 18 months to complete. In the meantime, the borough is trying to work out a deal that would move the cars off the GDC property and onto the former Ridson manufacturing property behind the Naugatuck Recycling Center off Rubber Avenue and Andrew Avenue.