Monday, February 22, 2010

Car repair chain plans Amarillo store

Amarillo figures into a Houston auto repair chain’s plan to triple its 50 faith-based franchises in the next five to seven years.

Christian Brothers Automotive Corp. will shift its plan to build a 5,000-square-foot store into gear once it obtains approval from the city of Amarillo for the rezoning of a tract on Coulter Street, north of Hillside, a company executive said.

The Amarillo Planning and Zoning Commission will consider Christian Brothers' request for "planned development" zoning during a meeting at 3 p.m. today in the Commission Chamber at Amarillo City Hall, 509 S.E. Seventh Ave.

A report by city planning staff recommends changing the "general retail" zoning designation for the site, a vacant tract next door to Discount Tire at 5820 S. Coulter St., Senior Planner Cris Valverde said.

General retail zoning allows businesses offering light auto maintenance, such as tire and oil changes, but not more extensive car repair.

Christian Brothers stores will replace engines, but they don't offer “heavy line jobs” like transmission rebuilding, body work or welding, according to Josh Wall, vice president of development for the chain.

With planned development zoning, the city can control specific site aspects, such as signs, hours of operation, landscaping, lighting and architectural compatibility with adjacent structures.

Christian Brothers’ stores look like a house, Wall said, with a gabled roof and a brick and stone exterior. Interior customer areas are decorated with hardwood floors, leather couches, artwork and decorative lighting.

The city mailed notices of the zoning application to owners of property within a 200-foot radius of the site, as required by state law. No one had contacted the city to oppose the zoning change by Friday, Valverde said.

Zoning ordinances must be approved once by the planning commission and twice by the City Commission to take effect.

The chain intends to begin construction in April or May, Wall said.

Christian Brothers Automotive Corp. touts a “family-first value system,” Wall said.

The company requires its franchise owners to be born-again Christians, though store employees can observe any faith they wish, or none at all, he said.

The chain also closes its stores on weekends to allow employees more family time, Wall said.

New stores stay open on weekends for the first four months of operation before adopting the Monday through Friday schedule.

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