To stay in the city, dealership thinks smaller and taller

Putting 120,000 square feet (11,000 square metres) of dealership into a downtown location required going vertical; the service department and new- and used-vehicle inventories are located below ground level.

This presented unique problems, however. The service hoists, minus the arms, had to be installed into the concrete floor before the building above could proceed, and an extensive air-handling system was needed to ensure that no exhaust fumes escaped into the building above.

“We’ve got massive cardboard compactors and bailers, because everything has to be moved with a vehicle that’s no [taller] than eight feet,” Harbottle said.

The 55,000-square-foot (5,000-square-metre) multitiered showroom and office area, designed by Vancouver architect Bing Thom, affords customers at the reception area a view of Toyota’s entire model lineup.

“They are all ovals in the shape of the Toyota logo, and they progressively get bigger as you go up, with all glass railings,” Harbottle said.


Owner Jimmy Pattison, whose business empire began with the purchase of a General Motors dealership in Vancouver in 1961, maintained his usual hands-off approach, Harbottle said.

Pattison’s only concern — whether tree-lined Burrard Street would obscure the display windows — was allayed when he viewed a building model. Harbottle also spent $400,000 to upgrade to imported nonreflective glass.

“When you drive by there during the day, you can see right in, and so it’s noticeably different,” Harbottle said. “And when you light it up at night, it’s spectacular.”

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