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Richmond, B.C. flagship Porsche dealership breaks ground

Warren Frey
Richmond, B.C. flagship Porsche dealership breaks ground
WARREN FREY - Members of the Wales McLelland construction team, including owner and president Doug Scott (centre left) and senior project manager David Monti (centre right) pose in front of the construction site where Porsche’s newest Lower Mainland auto dealership will soon take form.

One of the Lower Mainland’s biggest car markets is making room for Porsche’s newest dealerships.

Construction of the new Porsche Centre Richmond facility nestled amongst other car dealerships at the Richmond Auto Mall began with a groundbreaking ceremony featuring executives from Porsche, Dilawri, Open Road and construction firm Wales McLelland.

The 75,000 square foot retail and service centre will feature a large new and pre-used vehicle showroom, a service and parts area featuring 15 service bays, a service drive through and a specialized delivery area. The multi-level facility will be one of the biggest dealerships in the Lower Mainland.

Wales McLelland senior project manager David Monti said there were several facets to consider when building an auto dealership as compared to other buildings.  

“It’s the shops, the facility and operations, there’s a lot of details in the shop and coordinating with the vendors that provide all the equipment in the shop, there’s vehicle exhaust, the hoist and benches, and the process to deal with all of that. That’s probably unique to any other building is the in-ground hoist and just dealing with the different requirements (or a car dealership),” Monti said.

While all car dealerships seem to be growing in size, Monti said, the Porsche dealership about to take form is on a larger scale.

“The Porsche dealership is going to be 80,000 square feet over multiple levels, and they’re growing in size just based on car storage. They’re keeping larger inventory on the sites and that’s really what’s driving the size of the buildings,” he said.

“It’s mostly concrete construction now because of the weight we have to carry, waterproofing’s always an issue, so these are some of the challenges we have on multi-level such as this,” Wales McLelland owner and president Doug Scott added.

Soil in Richmond is composed primarily of silt and sand and those conditions must be addressed when building a multi-level car dealership, Monti said.

“You’re adding more weight in the bearing, and concrete buildings are heavier,” he said. “These buildings (in the Richmond Auto Mall area) have raft-slab constructions so they have a large, thick body of concrete underneath the building that acts as a raft to redistribute the loads and that’s unique to the area we’re building in here.”

The new dealership will sell Porsche’s new Taycan electric vehicle (EV), but Monti said there’s been broad movement on EV across the automotive industry and accommodating that vehicle style in the new building wouldn’t be difficult.

“All the new builds we’re doing now are incorporating EV charging, that’s been a requirement for about the last five plus years. Pace chargers (a high capacity charging station) are a little more onerous on the charging and the infrastructure but that’s known and it’s not really a new item with all the dealers coming out with electric cars since the dealerships have provisions in place,” he said.

Most cars sold at dealerships are similar in performance so the differentiating factor is buyer experience, Scott said, and the facility must be built to reflect that need.

“Experience goes into configurators where they have special rooms with televisions and audio systems that make it a unique experience for the customers,” Monti added.

While the dealership won’t be built to a LEED standard, he said, the B.C. building code drives environmental considerations.

“There’s definitely methods that we haven’t used in the past that are going into these buildings. Management systems for your HVAC, heating controls, all that stuff is managed through design and provides a higher efficiency,” Monti said.

“Everyone’s focused on that, the design team and the construction team,” Scott added. “LED lighting is standard now on all these facilities, energy savings on the heating and cooling systems, that’s all on top of everyone’s mind.”

Once the construction permit is obtained, the construction schedule will span 13 to 14 months, with completion in late 2020. 

SITE PARTNERS INC. – A rendering shows the final form of the new Porsche Centre Richmond auto dealership, due for completion in 2020.

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