OAKLAND — Normally car dealerships come and go without much attention.
But the One Toyota of Oakland dealership on the edge of Interstate 880 would not be one of them.
The state-of-the-art structure on Oakport Street near Hegenberger Road opened for business Monday with high expectations as a beacon for Oakland's economic recovery — just days after Toyota announced a massive recall of its vehicles.
The recall announcement tinged the automaker's reputation but did nothing to dampen the spirits of the owners of One Toyota of Oakland, Brian McCafferty and Brad Barnett.
"You may get a little tight-chested" Barnett said Monday surrounded by hundreds of new and used Toyota models, none of which were affected by the recall.
"But we see it as an opportunity," he said after a ribbon-cutting ceremony to inaugurate the dealership. They are still receiving information about the recall, Bennett said, adding that people should call their service department at 510-569-1111, or come to the dealership.
The opening came nearly exactly a year after the now-defunct Superior Toyota shut down a week into operation. The closing was a blow to Oakland, which depends heavily on car dealerships for tax revenues.
Different groups approached the city about using the 118,000-square-foot space for everything from a church to housing for ex-offenders, City Councilmember Larry Reid said Monday. Reid said he was determined to keep the business as a dealership even as automotive sales plummeted in 2008 and the government bailed out major carmakers. Meanwhile, Toyota and General Motors stunned Fremont by announcing they planned to pull out of the NUMMI plant there.
The timing was an opportunity, said McCafferty, who has been in the car business for 25 years. Both men moved to the East Bay from Arizona, where McCafferty owns Avondale Toyota, a sister dealership.
McCafferty said he paid "pennies on the dollar" for the Oakland dealership: $22 million — $14 million less than the original price.
"It makes our business model possible," McCafferty said. They called it "one price, one person," which is supposed to eliminate add-on costs and backroom haggling by coming up with a uniform price tag on vehicles and assigning one person to handle a transaction from start to finish.
So far, the duo has hired 115 employees from Oakland or nearby and expects to expand the work force to 200.
The location attracted them because of the proximity to I-880, the Oracle Arena and the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. The entrance on Oakport Street faces the back of Walmart off Edgewater Drive and the nearby Oakland airport employs 11,000 people alone, McCafferty said. "All those people need our service."
"And," McCafferty added, "recessions don't last forever."
Toyota owners can visit the dealership or call the service department at 510-569-1111.