AURORA | Aurora resident Ali Awada wants to turn a vacant restaurant and nearby field in a typically suburban retail-and-residential area near East Iliff Avenue and South Peoria Street into a car dealership. Neighbors, not so much.
Arnie Schultz, who lives near the site and was one of 200 residents who attended an April planning meeting about the proposal, said he is opposed to Awada’s plan because a car dealership simply wouldn’t fit in to the feel of the Iliff Square shopping center and surrounding neighborhoods.
“We want something the neighbors can use there,” Schultz said of a shopping square that includes a Walgreens, a yogurt shop, a thrift store, various fast food restaurants, a bookstore and a martial arts studio.
Awada, who owns Colorado Auto Finders at Iliff and Parker Road, said he is interested in the site because he wants to expand his business, something his current location doesn’t allow for.
“I’m looking for a location where I can bring all of my inventory into one place,” he said. Awada said the new location is not ideal but that he has so far been unable to find a place on Aurora’s “motor mile” of 25 dealerships that line Havana Street.
According to city planners, the site is zoned as residential and would need to be rezoned to accomodate a car dealership.
Awada said he has not yet submitted plans to the city for the car lot because he wants to incorporate feedback he has heard so far from residents that included concerns about safety on that corner. Awada said part of his plan for the car lot would include installing security cameras.
He said he is looking to build a car lot that would hold 140 vehicles for sale at the Iliff and Peoria shopping corner. Part of his preliminary plans for the site involve knocking down and rebuilding the vacant restaurant and turning it into a structure that would house seven auto service bays next to the lot.
“We’re going to put a lot of glass in and make it look really modern,” he said of the potential building design. “We want to make the area nicer and bring value to the corner.”
Awada is a longtime resident and entrepreneur in the area who owns the Saj Mediterranean Grill, a few blocks west on Iliff.
“If he were to put a sit-down Mediterranean restaurant in there, I think he would have the support,” Schultz said.
Awada said he will meet with neighbors one more time before submitting his plans to the city.
“I’m trying to meet them halfway,” Awada said of residents’ concerns.