Article prefaced and provided by Carmen R. Austin, MBA, CCIM, Associate Broker for Saurage Commercial Real Estate 

Carmen R. Austin, MBA, CCIM along with Hank Saurage, CCIM handled the transactions for two former auto dealerships located in Baton Rouge, LA earlier this year. One was former BIG Mitsubishi Dealership located at 9330 N. Interstate Drive near Airline Hwy. which closed March 15 for $1,800,000 and is now occupied by an engineering firm and a generator business, and the other was 13000 Florida Blvd. a former Toyota Dealership which was purchased by All Star Automotive for $1,500,000 on March 23 of this year.  Local proof that shuttered auto dealerships are starting to be occupied again.  — Carmen R. Austin, MBA, CCIM, Associate Broker for Saurage Commercial Real Estate

WHITEHALL, Mich. — The Ford dealership in this town of 2,800 closed nearly two years ago, one more victim of the recession in a state that was among the hardest hit in the economic downturn. Yet the 30-acre site is once again filled with cars and trucks, as the home of a Save-A-Lot discount grocery store that opened in March.

Since early 2009, said Norm Miller, vice president of analytics for the CoStar Group, some 2,300 auto dealerships have closed around the country, as new car sales plunged more than 40 percent and the government, after taking ownership stakes in General Motors and Chrysler, forced them to end longstanding franchise contracts.  The closings put 70 million square feet of buildings and land on the market, according to CoStar, a commercial real estate research company based in Bethesda, Md.

But in the last five quarters, Mr. Miller said, 649 of those shuttered dealerships found new owners and were put to new uses, including the sale of Whitehall Ford here for $1.1 million.  In the first quarter of this year, 152 dealerships were sold for a combined total of $300 million, he said.  Prices ranged form $500,000 to $9 million, Mr. Miller said, though most sales were for $1 million to $3 million.

The numbers, Mr. Miller said, represent only the first wave of real estate investment in a market segment that was blasted by the recession.

“The good news is that there are steady sales.  And there are some noticeable trends,” he said.  “Schools are buying dealerships and converting them.  Lumberyards are buying dealerships.  Some are being turned into retail centers.  A number of the best properties are being purchased and redeveloped by other auto dealerships.  Closed dealerships are selling at the rate of $200 million to $300 million per quarter.”  To read this article in its entirety click HERE.

Carmen has been a practicing commercial real estate broker with Saurage Commercial Real Estate since 2001. She is a graduate of the Louisiana State University (LSU) E.J. Ourso College of Business and the LSU Flores Masters of Business Administration (MBA) Program with a specialization in Entrepreneurship and Real Estate Finance.  Her experience includes past employment as Regional Director of Leasing at Commercial Properties Realty Trust the for-profit arm of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation. Carmen’s affiliations include Louisiana REALTORS®,Greater Baton Rouge Association of REALTORS® Commercial Investment DivisionInternational Council of Shopping CentersCommercial Real Estate WomenCertified Commercial Investment Member InstituteNational Association of REALTORS®, and Urban Land Institute. She is also an active volunteer on the board of directors for the Baton Rouge GalleryLSU MBA Alumni AssociationJunior Achievement of Baton Rouge, and the Junior League of Baton Rouge.  Carmen currently serves as the 2010 President of the Louisiana CCIM Chapter

Saurage Company, Inc dba Saurage Commercial Real Estate was founded in Baton Rouge in 1991 with the purpose of providing exceptional real estate services with an emphasis on commercial property and property management. Saurage Commercial Real Estate offers to its clients a full range of real estate services including brokerage, investment advising, development consulting, REO disposition specialists, asset management, fee based consulting, tenant representation, and buyer representation. The staff of professionals includes combined experience of 50 years, as well as CCIM Designees and Candidates and recipients of Master of Business Administration.