ITHACA, N.Y.—The nature of car dealerships requires a fairly regular amount of renovation. As brands seek to redefine their image every several years, branded dealers are expected to keep pace with the latest aesthetics, technology and experiences.

But beyond the new furnishings and tech installations, dealerships owners are free to renovate and rebuild as they choose. Local dealership mogul Phil Maguire, President of the Maguire Family of Dealerships, is particularly active in that regard.

In the past several years, Maguire has built a new Nissan dealership in the village of Lansing, performed a gut renovation of their Ford-Lincoln dealership on South Meadow Street, and renovated and expanded their Chrysler Jeep Ram dealership further down the road.

This is in addition to his purchase of Honda of Ithaca, his Syracuse plans, or his unsuccessful proposals for dealership campuses in the town of Ithaca in the mid 2010s, and a few years later at Carpenter Park, which he sold for a hefty profit.

Now comes the latest set of plans – a renovation of the Maguire Hyundai-Subaru dealership at 320 Elmira Road.

Site Plan Review documents filed with the City of Ithaca Planning Department earlier this month tell of plans for a $1.5 million renovation proposed for the dealership, which Maguire purchased for $1.75 million in April 2020. The 2.53-acre site currently includes the two vehicle dealership showrooms, adjacent employee office and administrative functions, service reception, service garage, parts storage, and a storage mezzanine within an 18,444 square-foot building footprint.

The proposal is largely landscaping and interior work. The general dimensions of the building would stay the same. On the outside, the gravel areas would be paved, the parking areas overall would be refinished and restriped, new plantings, lighting, concrete aprons, curbing, flood control channel mitigations, trash enclosure and a new raised vehicle display facing Elmira Road.

Landscaping plan for 320 Elmira Road.

Meanwhile, on the inside, the service garage slab would be replaced, the windows and showroom glass would be replaced, new exterior and overhang doors would be installed, epoxy flooring, mechanical mezzanine, service employee break area, interior & exterior painting, tile/floor/ceiling finishes, exterior prefabricated entry canopy, and partial height masonry partition walls. New utilities include new exhaust fans, plumbing, EV charger stations, interior lighting, and new mini-splits and ducts for HVAC. No new occupiable square footage like the Ford/Lincoln plan, but a very thorough internal rebuild regardless.

All of this work is being designed to corporate specs by John Snyder Architects of Ithaca, who have taken the lead on a number of Maguire’s projects in recent years. Saratoga Associates is providing landscaping and engineering work.

It’s renovating an existing property, the project appears to largely if not completely comply with zoning at a glance, and Southwest Ithaca is one of the parts of the city that the Planning Board is less sensitive about given its role as the city’s chain retail strip and “Automobile Row.” In other words, there are no initial caution flags cast with this application.

The application seems to project a fairly smooth reviews process. The tentative start for the Hyundai-Subaru dealership renovation project is this June, with completion in March 2023.

Brian Crandall

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