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Body Pros to open at former Davidson dealership; expanded space to be ‘automotive plaza’ with multiple services

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Construction workers are building a 12,000-square-foot expansion at the former Davidson GMC dealership on outer Washington Street that will open this fall as the new headquarters of Body Pros Collision Experts.

Body Pros owner Junior J. Stefanini plans to transform the building at 18288 Route 11 into a hub for automotive services, including collision and general auto repair, towing and car rentals. Along with that structure, Mr. Stefanini recently bought the neighboring former Davidson Chevrolet building to the south from Davidson Automotive Group. That 35,000-square-foot building will be renovated to provide space for up to four retailers in the automotive industry to lease.

The current Body Pros location at 17490 Route 11, about a half-mile south, will close when the new business opens at the end of November. Owner F.X. Caprara Bros. is advertising the building for sale. Body Pros will hire up to 10 full-time employees to add to its staff of 22 at the new 27,000-square-foot location, Mr. Stefanini said. The expanded section under construction at the rear of the building will house a collision repair center. An existing service center previously used by Davidson will open as Elite Auto Repair, a subsidiary of Body Pros. The location also will include Pro Towing, a Body Pros subsidiary that operates tow trucks.

Hertz car rental company, which opened a location at Body Pros in May, will expand its services at the new location by adding vehicles to its rental fleet — a move made possible by its large parking area, Mr. Stefanini said. Vacant space at showroom and office areas will be available for additional tenants to lease. Automotive businesses interested in opening satellite locations, for example, might lease space.

Taken as a whole, the array of services offered at the two buildings will establish what Mr. Stefanini calls an “automotive plaza” on outer Washington Street. The former Davidson Chevrolet building is expected to open with its first tenant in November; multiple tenants have expressed interest in the site.

“I’m not a car dealer, but I’m trying to give customers who can’t afford a new car that same kind of treatment here,” Mr. Stefanini said. “And I want to make this an automotive plaza that will provide services other dealerships and garages in town can use. I’m not taking money out of their pockets, because we work together. I buy parts from Davidson and Waite Toyota, and they use my towing service. Hertz expects to grow tremendously, because all of the dealers” refer customers there.

Body Pros also will become more visible by setting up shop at the busy intersection near auto dealerships, said Mr. Stefanini, who has leased his current location for five years from F.X. Caprara.

Originally, “I was looking to build an auto shop, but costs were too much for what I needed, square-foot wise,” he said. After meeting with the Davidson owners, “I figured it would be more cost-effective to move into this building than build one from the ground up.”

The expansion project at the former Davidson GMC building is being completed by MTL Design, Watertown. Mr. Stefanini bought the building and 4.3-acre commercial parcel on Aug. 23 for $899,000, according to Jefferson County property sale records. He bought the former Davidson Chevrolet building and 15.6-acre parcel this month for an undisclosed amount.

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