ITHACA, N.Y. — Ithaca exports include college graduates, craft beer, and now car dealerships.

The Maguire Family of Dealerships, founded in Trumansburg in 1977 and with over 400 employees in Tompkins County, is looking to put down some roots in Syracuse. The Post-Standard reported on the Maguires’ plans Thursday morning.

The Syracuse proposal is a three-building project located at 959 West Hiawatha Boulevard, just a few blocks from West Genesee Street and the historic “Automobile Row” just west of downtown Syracuse. Automobile Row earned its name in the early 20th century, being where the first car dealerships set up shop in the Salt City. Though they were competitors to each other, being located one next to another allowed for easy cross-brand shopping, just as it does today.

Maguire would buy and renovate an existing Dodge dealership, and relocate a Nissan dealership from West Genesee to the Hiawatha property. Maguire opened the Nissan location late last year, and is renting the West Genesee property temporarily while they formulate and execute their plans. A third dealership and a used-car branch are also planned as part of the “campus”.

The total project cost is $19.4 million. Looking at initial renders, there are definitely some influences from their Carpenter Circle proposal that show up here – LEED Certified, solar-powered electric car charging stations, rooftop solar panels, and a cafe. Local company Schickel Architcture is in charge of design.

In a sense, they’re importing a little bit of their Ithaca approach to Syracuse, all the more interesting given that Syracusans tend to be more culturally conservative than little Ith. The hope seems to be, if Maguire can grow and be successful here in Tompkins County, perhaps they can keep the momentum going and be successful in Onondaga County as well.

“As the largest population base closest to our home operations in Ithaca, Syracuse offers increased revenue potential based on population size, and a diverse franchise climate which fit into our long term acquisition strategy,” said Phil Maguire, President of the company. “Our expansion into Syracuse enables us to offer advancement opportunities to existing employees.”

Maguire plans to employ about 100 at their Syracuse campus. Construction and renovation would begin later this year, with the new Nissan store opening in late 2017. The third dealership is to be determined, still being fleshed out for a smaller and/or luxury car brand.

Now, as for the Ithaca plans that have caused debate over the past year, they’re still active, but there’s nothing currently moving through the city’s reviews process. But if it shows up on the city’s agenda, we’ll be covering it.

Brian Crandall

Brian Crandall reports on housing and development for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached at bcrandall@ithacavoice.com.