[aesop_image imgwidth=”500px” img=”http://www.signaltribunenewspaper.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Screen-Shot-2016-06-16-at-4.19.20-PM.png” credit=”Denny Cristales | Signal Tribune ” align=”right” lightbox=”on” caption=”From left: Miguel Rivera and Daniel Perry, service advisors at West Coast Toyota, look through car-maintenance records on Tuesday. The Toyota dealership opened its doors this week after a recent transaction that saw Ken Garff Automotive take ownership of the franchise. ” captionposition=”right”] [aesop_character name=”Denny Cristales” caption=”Editorial Assistant” align=”center”] Rebranded with new management and a new name, West Coast Toyota, 3399 Willow St., officially opened its doors this week after a transaction was completed that resulted in Ken Garff Automotive Group officially purchasing the Toyota franchise from Hooman Automotive Group.
Michael Hastings, with Direct Point Advisors, Inc., a public relations and marketing consulting firm that represents both Garff and Hooman, said the transaction was completed last week. West Coast Toyota confirmed the change in ownership.
Garff Automotive, based in Utah, owns dealerships around Southern California, including the Signal Hill Honda Store located at 1500 E. Spring St.
West Coast Toyota hosted an employee orientation on June 7, the week of the transaction, in preparation for the opening.
“I think the best way to view Garff and their operations… they are a very large operation out of Utah, family-run, eye-on-the-ball people,” Hastings said in a phone interview two days later. “It’s a very buttoned-up organization, and I’m sure they bought that to grow it.”
The Toyota dealership at 3399 Willow St. began construction in late 2014, a few weeks after a groundbreaking ceremony in which Hooman Automotive had plans for an $18-million Toyota dealership project, according to a 2014 press release from the company.
Hooman Nissani, co-owner and president of Hooman Automotive, helped facilitate the construction of the building at the property but claimed that the Hooman company never operated in that location and simply sold the business that was located there, he said in a phone interview.
Michael Conway, the Long Beach director of economic and property development, said that the West Coast property on Willow is currently under a previously existing sales-tax sharing agreement, which was “intended to support a renovation and expansion plan at that location.”
“A sales-tax sharing agreement is an agreement between the City and the sales-tax generator that the City and the generator will share the sales tax up to 50 percent and up to 20 years over an established baseline,” Conway explained in a phone interview. “And so Hooman has completed his expansion and renovation as agreed upon the agreement, and so we’re very pleased that it was completed ahead of schedule.”
Prior to the transaction with Ken Garff Automotive, sales tax generated by vehicles that went above a certain threshold number would be split 50-50 between Nissani and the City of Long Beach, according to Conway. He said that the 50-50 agreement would remain in place, per the sales-tax sharing agreement, but there were conflicting reports as to whether or not Nissani still received a portion of the sales tax, or if Garff Automotive would inherit the tax.
Efforts to confirm further details about the sales-tax sharing agreement were unsuccessful.
Conway said he disclosed the details of the sales-tax sharing agreement with the lessee of West Coast Toyota— Garff Automotive— and that the process has been completed and confirmed with Hastings.
Nissani confirmed the transaction of the Toyota dealership on the corner of Willow Street and Redondo Avenue on Wednesday. He added that his sights are on an even bigger project he has planned.
The project, still in its early stages, will begin development in a few months as an eight-car dealership park in Playa Vista, right outside of Culver City in Los Angeles.
“It’s the largest project that has ever been done in the car industry, and it’ll be one of the most exciting things,” Nissani said. “It’ll generate over $700 million in sales annually, and it’ll be one of the largest projects in the city of Los Angeles. It’ll hold about 900 employees. It’s a giant project.”
According to Nissani, the location will be called Hooman Urban Auto Park, and it will be seven stories tall with one story underground. It will house eight car dealerships and will also operate as a hotel and apartment tower. He will share ownership with his brother Rayan Nissani, who is also a co-owner of Hooman Automotive.
“Hooman is an entrepreneur,” Hastings said. “He just moves from here to there and builds things and moves on… Keep your eye on Hooman, because you never know when his next move is going to be.”
Nissani also showed faith in the new owner, Ken Garff Automotive, and its new West Coast Toyota franchise, adding that “they’ll do great.”
Hastings echoed Nissani’s thoughts.
“Garff is also a very good community-oriented organization,” Hastings said. “Hopefully they’ll pick up where Hooman left off and be equally as supported in the community.”
Attempts at an interview with West Coast Toyota officials were unsuccessful.
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