ESSEX—Rick Ayotte, the local resident who purchased the former Mazda dealership site at 7 Main Street in Ivoryton last December, is moving forward with plans for a private care club on the property that fronts on the Mill Pond of the Falls River.
Ayotte, under the name of his company, Little Village Construction LLC, purchased the 1.5-acre parcel and former dealership building from a New York-based holding company last December for $250,000. The former Crest Mazda dealership closed in June 2010, but the property was one of the first auto dealerships in the area dating back to the early 1900s. It operated for decades as the Beherns and Bushnell Buick dealership.
Ayotte said Thursday he hopes to establish the Essex Motor Club on the property by this summer. “It will be a private club for auto enthusiasts and collectors,” he said, with dues-paying members allowed to use the riverfront property and store their vehicles in the building.
Ayotte said the club would have about 50 members, with the front section of the dealership building set aide for a club meeting room and library offering information on antique and vintage cars. “It’s going to be a class operation, a real place for car collectors,” he said.
Ayotte, who owns five cars with his wife, Sara, has been working on the building and surrounding property over the past three months, removing the blacktop and planting grass over the former dealership parking area. Ayotte said he is also planning some limited sales of vehicles from the site, probably selling some collectable vehicles for club members and associates on a consignment basis. “It’s an idea that is still evolving,” he said.
Though the former dealership is located in a residential zone, Ayotte has already received all of the local approvals needed for his plans. Despite periods of vacancy, the dealership has remained a valid non-conforming commercial use that predates the adoption of local zoning regulations in the early 1960s.
Joseph Budrow, zoning enforcement officer, said both First Selectman Norman Needleman and Zoning Board of Appeals Chairman Stuart Ingersoll have signed a K7 form that is required under state law to resume the dealership use. Approval is also needed from the state Department of Motor Vehicles. While the form refers to a dealer/repairer location, Ayotte said there would be no major motor vehicle repairs done on the site.