Car magnate Herb Chambers hopes to construct a new, multi-story building at 720 Morrissey Blvd. to house a Honda dealership and showroom that would replace an existing, single-story structure on the same site. Chambers is already selling Hondas from the two-acre property that he acquired last fall, a site that has long been used to sell automobiles. Most recently, it was home to used-car dealer JD Byrider and, before that, Westminster Dodge.
Chambers, a Dorchester native, has for a long time sought to set up a neighborhood outpost in his extensive automotive empire, which now counts 60 distinct dealerships across New England.
“I grew up on Draper Street, less than two miles from this dealership,” Chambers told the Reporter. I have so many wonderful memories of being raised in Dorchester, and I am beyond proud to open a Honda dealership here.”
In 2012, he acquired the former Channel 56 studio property next to the Boston Globe site and advanced plans to re-purpose the site to sell pre-owned BMWs. The proposal won city approval, but he shifted gears and later proposed a larger building on the same site to sell Jaguars and Land Rovers— an idea that never came to fruition. He sold the property at 75 Morrissey Blvd. to New York-based developer Centre Court in 2017.
The current site, which he acquired last fall, is roughly two acres and fronts along the northbound stretch of Morrissey near Victory Road.
“We wanted to move from Commonwealth Ave to Morrissey Boulevard and I wish I could have purchased more space,” said Chambers, who noted that he had explored buying the former Old Colony House restaurant, which is on the market.
Instead, he said, he now plans to construct a new building— still in the design phase— on the southernmost corner of 720 Morrissey. The Honda dealership will remain open in its current quarters while construction takes place, he said, acknowledging that the build-out will be “incredibly challenging.
“We are planning a multi-story building with service and admin on the first floor and the showroom on the second floor and maybe a third and fourth story,” said Chambers, who said he hopes to begin construction later this year. The cost is not yet set, but he expects it could approach a $20 million investment.
The current building, which dates to the 1960s, is “very difficult” for both customers and staff, he said. However, the location— he thinks— is a winner.
“Honda is thrilled about it,” said Chambers, who notes that Expressway Toyota— located farther up the boulevard—”does very well there. I know the dealership will do very, very well.”