McEleney builing

Nine years ago, McEleney’s built a new expansive facility in Clinton’s west end. Now, thanks to the popularity of one of its products, that building is about to get bigger.

Construction will start today on an approximate $1.5- to $2-million addition to McEleney’s, 2421 Lincoln Way, that will highlight the Toyota brand in a new building. The car dealership will tear down its used car sales facility and replace it with an 8,000-square-foot Toyota dealership.

John McEleney, president of McEleney’s, said many dealerships across the country are moving toward adding Toyota-specific facilities.

“Looking at the long term,” McEleney said, “we’ve been in Clinton since 1914, almost 100 years, and the whole operation is here now. We have a commitment to Clinton. We expect to be here for a long time and want the best facility and best experience for our customers.”

The new building will house a four-vehicle showroom, expanded customer lounge including coffee and refreshment bar, Wi fi, children’s play area and other entertainment options, and a standard Toyota-designed building.

Toyota customers will now also have their own service center, meaning they will not need to take their vehicles to the main General Motors building.

“Dealers are independent business people,” McEleney said. “We pay for this, not Toyota. They can recommend changes, but we have to make the ultimate decision. But we’re encouraged by the future of Toyota. Sales have grown every year and it’s important to give them proper representation in this market.”

After struggling through 2008 and 2009, the car industry looks to have rebounded, including McEleney’s, which employs about 75 people from the area. Numbers released for year-to-date sales at McEleney’s are up 15 percent compared to a year ago, McEleney said.

In addition to the new building, McEleney’s will also renovate the exterior of the GM building. All the construction will be done using “green” technologies, allowing the facility to recycle certain parts into the new building.

Estes Construction, from Davenport, is the contractor for the project, and most of the subcontractors being used are from Clinton.

“We don’t plan to do this kind of major upgrade all the time, but over time, almost every to 10 to 15 years, we will have to do some refresh of the exterior appearance,” McEleney said. “The main reason this is so substantial this time has been the growth of Toyota.”

Completion of the project is anticipated to happen sometime in October, and McEleney said an open house will be planned shortly after that date.