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Lou Sobh Honda, a New Auto Dealership, Announces Investment in Forsyth County

Originally Published Jan 7, 2009, 4:34pm (Updated Feb 3, 2009, 2:19pm)
25 comment(s)

Cumming, January 7, 2009 – The Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce a new partner giving local residents the option for the purchase and service of Honda products in Forsyth County.  Lou Sobh Honda, part of the Lou Sobh Automotive family, an Atlanta based auto retailer, has under a contract a site at the intersection of  Hwy 141 and Majors Road, along the 400 corridor for their newest dealership.

Lou Sobh, a familiar name for many automobile customers in the Atlanta Market Area, has been in business in the Atlanta area since 1990.  Mr. Sobh currently has new car dealerships in Conyers, Duluth and Lithia Springs, Georgia.  In addition to the Atlanta Market, Mr. Sobh operates businesses in Chicago, Los Angeles, Jacksonville and Milton, Florida.  He has earned many awards from the different manufactures for being one of the best in customer sales and service satisfaction and he has been honored for his community involvement.  Those awards and honors have earned him the opportunity to grow his business and expand in new markets with new products.

In 2006 he was given the opportunity and opened his first Honda dealership in Jacksonville, Florida. 

“I am proud to say, that after only our second full year in business, we have outsold our competitors and we are the 2008 Honda Sales Leader in Jacksonville.   I believe, as a result of our excellent track record of sales and service satisfaction in Atlanta coupled with our proven performance in Jacksonville, Honda chose us as their representative for Forsyth County.”

Mr. Sobh has plans for a 47,000 square foot building on the 11.7 acre site.

“Forsyth County’s growth has been tremendous and it has created a great opportunity for Honda sales and service where current demand exits.  The residents of Forsyth County own over 12,000 Honda vehicles and currently must travel to surrounding counties for their Honda Dealer sales and service needs.  We will provide the residents with a conveniently located, attractive, easily accessible, friendly place to do business.”

The location and facility will be more than adequate to service the current customer needs and provide for future growth.  They expect to employ about 85 to 100 people at the location. Subject to zoning and variance approval, necessary for a automobile dealership, construction should begin in the second quarter of 2009 and the new dealership would open early in 2010.

“The Chamber is dedicated to expanding the Forsyth County economy by providing our community with jobs, business revenues and the opportunity to Buy Locally whenever possible,” said David Seago, Chair of the Chamber’s Economic Development Committee. “It is a great indication of the forward momentum of our economy that a quality partner such as Lou Sobh Honda has chosen to make their home here.”

Comments

25 comment(s) on this page. Add your own comment below.

Sarah
Jan 8, 2009 11:45am [ 1 ]

The large number of variances is of great concern. Obviously this is not a "good -fit" for their needs as so many variances are being requested for Sobh Honda to be viable. It would seem that they need to locate another location that fits their needs better. They need to follow FC UDC rules.

I and many others will oppose any and all variance request to the Peachtree Parkway overlay.

Michael Hogan
Jan 8, 2009 9:02pm [ 2 ]

Why are we making it difficult for such a needed business to join our community. They will bring much needed jobs and an excellent tax base, and they will be pollution free. The site next to them is already an auto repair shop so we would not be changing the area mileau. Losing such an excellent business to our community makes no sense at all. Regulating businesss out of our area will just deter others from trying to join our community. They investor will support our tax base to the tune of about $2,000,000.00. Lets get behind this and other new ventures. We cannot afford to lose opportunities like this one. Our commisioners need to encourage clean job creating business and not work to drive them away with regulations that make no sense. Those against this venture are not helping us the residents. They should be striving to make it work, they are merely feeding their own ego's and personal needs by not helping. Lets make this community stronger not one known for regulatory abuses that diminish our attractiveness to new business. Lets give great business some rational thought and work with, not against these new investors in our county.

Michael Hogan
Jan 8, 2009 9:02pm [ 3 ]

Why are we making it difficult for such a needed business to join our community. They will bring much needed jobs and an excellent tax base, and they will be pollution free. The site next to them is already an auto repair shop so we would not be changing the area mileau. Losing such an excellent business to our community makes no sense at all. Regulating businesss out of our area will just deter others from trying to join our community. They investor will support our tax base to the tune of about $2,000,000.00. Lets get behind this and other new ventures. We cannot afford to lose opportunities like this one. Our commisioners need to encourage clean job creating business and not work to drive them away with regulations that make no sense. Those against this venture are not helping us the residents. They should be striving to make it work, they are merely feeding their own ego's and personal needs by not helping. Lets make this community stronger not one known for regulatory abuses that diminish our attractiveness to new business. Lets give great business some rational thought and work with, not against these new investors in our county.

Donald Major
Jan 8, 2009 9:13pm [ 4 ]

I am very pleased to hear of Lou Sobh's interest in locating a Honda dealership in Forsyth County. I also appreciate the work of our Chamber Of Commerce in attracting first class commercial and industrial development to Forsyth County. Our county needs commercial and industrial development to balance our tax digest against residential development and to provide opportunity for employment for our residents. The proposed location for the dealership is the perfect location for the business since Peachtree Parkway is in the process of becoming a four lane highway and a very short distance from Ga.400. This is for sure the highest and best use of the proposed property.

Sarah
Jan 9, 2009 9:34am [ 5 ]

Yes, Forsyth County needs commerical growth and Sohb is a great company to add -no doubt about any of that.

The point is that this particular location may not be a good fit for them if they cannot be viable there without breaking rules. Planning Staff, our Commissioners and many citizens worked very hard to develop the Peachtree Overlay and no one should be allowed to variance out of it. Many companies have located on Peachtree Parkway, adhered to the overlay, and are successful. Sobh may need to look for another Forsyth site - perhaps MacFarland would be a better fit, there is a new auto dealership there.

Josalyn
Jan 9, 2009 3:31pm [ 6 ]

Lou Sobh needs variances, they should be given, and in short order. Why would a growing area as ours, in this economic climate not? We need the jobs, the commercial and industrial development to balance our tax digest against residential development. I would appreciate a Honda dealership here. Peachtree Parkway is going to be four lane before we know it. This is a great idea for this property.

Laurel
Jan 9, 2009 4:56pm [ 7 ]

As a Honda owner, I am pleased to know that Honda picked Forsyth County. Through years of traveling to other counties for service, I look forward to being able to get what I need without traveling out of Forsyth County. This location at Highway 141 and Majors Road seems to fit well. The two schools located next to the property and churches located on Highway 141 would prohibit any restaurant or other businesses from selling alcohol. The amount of traffic currently on Highway 141 would not be increased by this dealership as much as placing another commercial/retail development on the subject property. What better commercial use is feasible for this site?

Matt
Jan 9, 2009 5:51pm [ 8 ]

Lou Sobh should be encouraged to locate here and if Honda thinks Peachtree Parkway is the right spot we should give them the variance they need. This is good business for our county and jobs for our workers. WHAT ARE WE WAITING FOR?

Doug
Jan 9, 2009 10:18pm [ 9 ]

I would hope that the county would gladly give the variences needed to allow Lou Sobh to locate a Honda dealership on the proposed location in Forsyth County. I have lived in this county all my life and have never seen the economy as it is today. This dealership will create new jobs, increase the tax base and could be a boost to this area.

gajackson
Jan 10, 2009 9:12am [ 10 ]

I'm sure Chairman Laughinghouse will do his best to stop Sobh from coming. Isn't that his job to stymie growth and stop everyone from coming here? To obstruct business and progress any way he can? Oooooooo. And then there's that dirty "GROWTH" word! We wouldn't want that!

gail wills
Jan 10, 2009 2:53pm [ 11 ]

I think this is a good thing for Forsyth County, and the location is easily accessible to everyone. We buy Honda's and usually have to go to Gainesville. It will be nice to have one close, and give the tax dollars to our community. It will also offer jobs, and in this day and time, thats a very good thing. Why are people making this so difficult. There are nothing but businesses and schools in this area, so what better to go in this area than a dealership that is needed. gw

jack
Jan 10, 2009 3:07pm [ 12 ]

We should not give a variance for an automobile delearship, that will lead to 141 being littered with delearships. The place for this would be in the Industrial areas such as McFarland or Hwy20. People in Forsyth County would still have easy access to both of those locations and no variance would be needed. 141 has an overlay district for a reason. I can't imagine people will like the sight of delearship after delearship and that will happen if this get approved. We need to look at long term growth and aesthetics, not give a variance because we need this type of company at this time just because of the market situation. Things change people. If Honda chooses not to come here because of not receiving a variance so be it. They know there's other alternatives in Forsyth, but would rather push the envelope to get even closer to the residential areas.

Anna McManus
Jan 10, 2009 10:48pm [ 13 ]

We should most definitely allow the variance to bring this dealership to this area. We are in an economic crisis. Someone wants to bring a new business with new jobs and new revenue to our county, and we need to allow them to do so.

I simply don't understand the mindset of people like Sarah. We NEED this. This is 141. It is a heavily traveled commercial area. This is the perfect place for this type of business.

Why in the world would we discourage Lou Sobh's plans for this dealership?

Bill
Jan 11, 2009 10:17am [ 14 ]

How fortunate Forsyth County is to have a major investor step forward with the economy-enhancing proposal of a new major business. The convenience of a Honda dealership for the county's residents and the additional tax base should provide adequate incentive for a receptive posture by the county's leadership.

Dave Richard
Jan 12, 2009 11:32am [ 15 ]

OK, do we NEED this dealership? No. But we sure would be enhanced in having one, especially on SR141.

Sarah is way off base on this one. If there were not supposed to be any variances to the 141 overlay, there wouldn't be a variance process allowed on the 141 overlay. That being said, there is a reason for the 141 overlay, and that is to ensure consistency of quality along the entire length within Forsyth County. If they are talking about a couple of feet here and there for landscaping or parking or even sewer, let the variances be approved. If they are talking about variances to building look and quality, then they need to be denied.

The whole idea of considering variances is to see if the applicant can build what he NEEDS to build within the confines of his land. If he can, no variances should be allowed. If he can't, then variances should at least be considered based on which ones he's asking for. It is all a matter of degree - if he wants the whole landscape strip gone, no way. That might be in keeping with Jack's point about going somewhere else, but some form of landscape strip is a requirement for the 141 overlay and shouldn't be removed - even for a car dealership.

Georgia
Jan 12, 2009 5:41pm [ 16 ]

Mr. Richard I agree. The variance process should be for NEEDED not desired changes. From what I read, along with several other requested variances, Sohb is asking for both a building material variance and P'tree Pkwy planting buffer strip variances. I would suspect that they want there cars up front on 141.

I do not see where those two variances could possibly be needed but only a desired request.

Dana K
Jan 14, 2009 7:10pm [ 17 ]

This dealership would be right in the middle of schools(Piney Grove, Shiloh, South Forsyth High School, Creekside, Pinecrest), churches (Creekside, Pinecrest, Babtist church besides Creekside at Majors Rd) and residences (orchards and numerous other neighborhoods). All of these would be a mere stones throw from this dealership. Forsyth planning is a joke. I moved out of Fulton, but at least they have more sense than to put a big box car dealership right in the middle of schools, churches, and residences along 141 in an upscale area. The planning around Johns Creek on 141 is pretty good but it degrades quickly as you move up 141 further into Forsyth county. You could put a dealer ship along Ronald Reagan or up around the Best Buy area in Cumming. Can anyone tell me an area with a car dealership where residences maintained values and crime did not rise. I can think of Peachtree Industrial, Highway 9, Buford Highway and Cobb Parkway. These areas are rough and highly commercial; I do not know if its the car dealership or all the other businesses that seem to go in after you get a car dealership, but it will be a step down for everyone living in proximity to the dealership. There are other areas around cumming much more desirable from a planning perspective, but we get a car dealership jammed right in the middle of schools, churches and residences; its pretty disgusting. Why would we want a dealership under these circumstances, when a walmart got shot down right down the road close to Laurel Springs. Tax base is great but if you turn the area into highway 9 or buford highway all the values will decline along with the tax base.

Mary
Jan 16, 2009 7:47pm [ 18 ]

Forsyth blew it years ago - Hwy. 141 is an eyesore. How could a Honda dealership possibly make things worse? Fast forward 15 years and Hwy. 141 will look just like Gwinnett. How about focusing on finishing the road and planting a few trees?

c smyth
Jan 17, 2009 9:12am [ 19 ]

Bottom line I think the Lou Sobh Honda Dealership is overwhelmingly wanted and needed for numerous, viable reasons for the people of Forsyth County. When you list the pros and cons there are definitely more pros and the county should accommodate. It is simply a win-win for everyone. There will always be resistance to change, but you have to look at the big picture - the county is growing and growth means change.

Laura
Jan 18, 2009 1:40pm [ 20 ]

We need a Honda dealership in the county and what a great location for it. I drive Peachtree Parkway and can reduce having to drive to another county or other areas of Forsyth for service. I would like to spend my taxes in Forsyth, if possible. This commercial road will soon be at least 5 lanes at this intersection and is suited for a dealership, which should not increase the traffic. No matter where a dealership rezones land in Forsyth, variances will be needed, and the commissioners usually grant needed reasonable variances. This road is a major artery road and the schools built in the area won't change that or its future growth. The county should work with this investor developer to build a successful business in this couny in this location, especially at this time. With the office buildings and major retail toward 400, and the commercial/residential mix to the south,this will also add beneficial balance to the area.

Dana K
Jan 18, 2009 8:42pm [ 21 ]

There is not another dealership on HWY 141 until you get inside the perimeter (Chamblee). There are numerous locations in Forsyth for such a dealership that would have much less of a negative impact on Schools, Churches and neighborhoods. Dealerships are typically in a much heavier commercial highway district and certainly not adjacent to schools, churces and residences. Chamblee used to be a nice place to live, but now you hit the adult bookstores and bars about the same time you hit the dealerships. HWY 141 may be going to 4 lanes, but you still have kids crossing the street to get to school. Would someone please point out another area with a dealership similar to the proposed area along 141. Just because a business wants something does not mean that the county has to accommodate them in every way. Forsyth is a fast growing county (with a large population) and alot of undeveloped farming/industrial area that would be appropriate for a dealership. Much of 141 north of Sharon was shown as neighborhood commercial (or zoning other than general commercial) on future land use maps in Forsyth County. The county planning has continually let developers change the zoning to higher intensities (general commercial) north of Sharon Road on 141 without ever developing anything. This is the reason 141 looks a mess, but giving up on it is not the answer. Typically, you would buffer schools, churces, and residences with lower intensity commercial uses such as neighborhood commercial (shops,offices, and small scale stores, restaurants etc). If there are natural buffers in place it might not be a big deal to break this rule, but there is no such buffer available around Majors road and 141. There are obviously many places south of Majors on 141 that have more traffic and are more commercially viable than the new Honda sight. Why is Honda picking the sight just north of Majors? Because they think that Forsyth County planning does not care much for its residents and they could get the zoning in that location when they couldn't get it anywhere else along 141 (all the way to the perimeter). Honda also knows the reputation of Forsyth County; there is a trend in Forsyth County of resident's interests being bulldozed over in the name of commercial development. Here we go again!

Nancy Shaw
Jan 20, 2009 10:43am [ 22 ]

During this time of needed employeement, a new business will bring jobs, much needed revenue and continue to indicate that Forsyth County is a growing community. This is a well chosen addition and should be welcomed by the citizens.

David Richard
Jan 20, 2009 1:07pm [ 23 ]

So Nancy, you're basically saying that since it is a bad time for our economy, we should ignore our rules of development? The ones that helped get us to one of the most desirable places in the country to live?

Which rules do we toss aside, just in the hope of bringing businesses to Forsyth? All of them, because business is so bad right now? You are advocating a very slippery slope where the commissioners in the future will have their hands tied when they want to imposed the rules again, and will not be able to do so under the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Then what happens to the REST of SR141?

Georgia
Jan 20, 2009 5:21pm [ 24 ]

"Which rules do we toss aside, just in the hope of bringing businesses to Forsyth? All of them, because business is so bad right now? You are advocating a very slippery slope where the commissioners in the future will have their hands tied when they want to imposed the rules again, and will not be able to do so under the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Then what happens to the REST of SR141?"

Well said Mr. Richard.

As far as the equal protection clause goes, there are numerous new businesses and facilities on 141 which followed the 141 Overlay rules. The FC Commissioners should not allow developers to break the same rules that others have abided by.

Kevin
Jan 21, 2009 7:06pm [ 25 ]

Realistically, NO further development should proceed until the road widening is completed. Traffic for those living along the area of 141 in question is a nightmare. We must be 18 months or so into the "project" and not even 3 miles of the 7 mile span is complete. Frustrating to say the least.

That aside... My personal concern with bringing in a dealership is that it won't stop at a single dealership. By definition, dealerships tend to migrate towards other dealerships. (If you know there are already people in the area shopping for cars, it makes sense from a business perspective to try and locate nearby.) I'm all for controlled growth and increasing the tax base. But this is not an appropriate location for another "Auto Mile." (And frankly, I'm surprise someone would invest in a green-field dealership at a time when no one is buying cars.)

I don't know what specific variances are being requested. But I don't agree that any requests should be blindly signed off without consideration of the big picture. And it's incredible that someone would say we "need a Honda dealership" in this particular spot so that they are not inconvenienced by having to drive over to Peachtree Industrial for service. First there are many high-quality service locations already in the area that you could be frequenting if you wanted to keep your money in Forsyth county. (We have been having our 2 Hondas serviced at DeKalb Tire just down the road for years --- and saving a ton of $ over what the dealership charges in the process.) Second, there are more appropriate locations for a dealership within the area that would still cover all of the points others have mentioned (ie. jobs, revenue, and yes, even convenience.)

My guess is that the majority of those applauding Lou Sobh do not live on 141 and/or have children attending Shiloh Point, Piney Grove, South Forsyth High, etc.

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