GM shuts down Saratoga Springs dealership

Thursday, June 11, 2009
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— General Motors Corp. has closed Champion Buick Pontiac GMC after the company was unsuccessful in finding a new owner to take over the South Broadway dealership.

GM spokeswoman Susan Garontakos said the dealership was shut down for business Tuesday afternoon. She said all 15 employees at the dealership were informed of GM’s decision this week.

“Although it was disappointing, they weren’t surprised,” she said Wednesday.

GM took over the dealership in April 2008 after the previous owner opted to sell it back to the company. Garontakos declined to name the former owner.

Initially, the company had anticipated selling the franchise to a new operator. But with the sudden dip in the economy, Garontakos said, the automaker couldn’t find a buyer.

“It was our earnest effort to try and see if we could get another buyer,” she said. “However, there was no way we could get someone in there that was interested, especially since there has been a downturn in the economy.”

Garontakos said the closure is unrelated to GM’s “wind-down” or to the “participation” agreements offered by GM earlier this month when the company filed for Chapter 11 protection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. The wind-down agreements provide closing dealerships with financing to sell off existing inventory, while the participation agreements mandate GM’s remaining dealers agree to certain terms after GM emerges from bankruptcy protection.

The dealership’s remaining inventory will be absorbed by GM and the dealership itself will conclude all business by Friday. Anyone who purchased a vehicle from Champion will receive notification about the closing and how to locate a different dealership.

The dealership had recently experienced a pronounced decline in the sale of new vehicles. In March, the general manager indicated the sales of new vehicles had been cut in half.

Champion’s lot at 135 S. Broadway is owned by Raymond Milligi III. The 1.6-acre parcel is assessed at $2.26 million, according to county records.

Attempts to contact Milligi and Champion’s management were unsuccessful Wednesday evening.

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