A prestigious Ferrari and Maserati dealership will open on Hawthorne Boulevard in Torrance this spring, further boosting a retail stretch already considered one of Southern California's most lucrative.
It's also in keeping with the city's pretensions of attracting more upscale retailers and restaurants to the midmarket retail district. Recent openings and planned additions include a Wal-Mart grocery store and a new location of a chain that sells inexpensive suits, for instance.
The Ferrari dealership, unanimously approved Wednesday by the city Planning Commission, will sit on a 28,600-square-foot lot now occupied by the Loft Hawaiian restaurant just north of the Lomita Boulevard intersection near Del Amo Fashion Center. The existing building, which has housed the Loft since 1998 and before that was occupied by a Japanese buffet, will be demolished.
The city is seeking to redevelop and upgrade the dated mall by adding a Nordstrom and other retailers.
"We have a lot of middle-grade retailers including restaurants, stores," Mayor Frank Scotto said. "If we want the full range of customer appeal, we need upscale restaurants and stores."
The new luxury car dealership is owned by Giacomo Mattioli, who also owns Ferrari Maserati Beverly Hills and is president of Ferrari Maserati Silicon Valley.
Mattioli purchased what was a factory-owned dealership in Beverly Hills in 1998, according to its website.
Mattioli said he chose Torrance as the location of a new dealership because of its central location in the South Bay. Its service center will enable South Bay customers to eliminate the drive to Beverly Hills to get their cars serviced, he said.
"The South Bay was a natural point because of the proximity with Palos Verdes and the beach cities, where we have several clients already living," he said. "It's very exciting to come to Torrance. I can't wait to open."
He plans to break ground on the sleek two-story building May 1 and open its doors just five months later in September.
Initially, the 11,600-square-foot dealership will have 10 employees.
It will receive an annual factory allocation of 50 Ferrari automobiles, which start at $215,000 apiece, Mattioli said.
The sister marque Maserati, which like Ferrari is owned by Fiat, which also owns Chrysler, is on an expansion kick that will include the introduction of a sport utility vehicle later this year. Built in Detroit on a Jeep Grand Cherokee platform, it's expected to start at a base price of $70,000.
"It could be a huge coup for us in terms of sales tax," Scotto said.
Car dealerships, among the most profitable sales tax generators for cities, have expanded along Hawthorne in recent years, filling in the gaping holes left by the withering recession.
For example, the nation's largest Audi dealership opened late last year on a 3-acre lot at the corner of Spencer Street and Hawthorne Boulevard.
Scott Robinson Honda is expanding by 3,000 square feet on the east side of the street between Torrance Boulevard and Spencer Street, city officials said.
A brand new Mazda dealership will replace the former Nissan salesroom on the east side of Hawthorne just north of Torrance Boulevard.
A Subaru dealership opened on Hawthorne in the last six months, while across the street Hyundai just completed a new showroom expansion after taking over the site of a former used-car dealer.
A new Mini dealership also is under construction north of 190th Street on the site of a former Staples store.
Hertz also plans to locate a used-car sales lot on the site of the former Saab dealership near the New Balance store.
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