WASHINGTON — Uftring Chevrolet is moving next door temporarily.Six days after the dealership at 1860 Washington Road was destroyed by a massive fire, officials announced Thursday that sales and service operations will move to a building 400 yards away at 1750 Washington Road that was home to Walmart and then Tractor Supply Company.Uftring is leasing a 25,000-square-foot portion of the building from Connect Church.
WASHINGTON — Uftring Chevrolet is moving next door temporarily.
Six days after the dealership at 1860 Washington Road was destroyed by a massive fire, officials announced Thursday that sales and service operations will move to a building 400 yards away at 1750 Washington Road that was home to Walmart and then Tractor Supply Company.
Uftring is leasing a 25,000-square-foot portion of the building from Connect Church, which planned to move into the space this year and celebrate its fifth anniversary in the fall.
The dealership also is leasing parking from Connect Church and A&J Storage, which owns the rest of the building.
The building is vacant. It’s been that way since Tractor Supply Company closed its doors in October 2015.
“Connect Church has been unbelievably gracious and compassionate to our needs,” said Mark Weston, chief executive officer for the Uftring Auto Group.
The church was launched in September 2013 and has been holding services at Washington Middle School since then.
It purchased the space in the old Walmart/Tractor Supply Company building late last year with plans to hold services there and have spaces for activities and offices after renovation work was done.
About 500 attend the church’s two services each Sunday. Services will continue to be held at the middle school while the dealership occupies the church’s space.
“We want to impact the community. That’s our vision, that’s why God put us here, and that’s more important than owning a building,” said the Rev. Dave Jane of Connect Church.
“We’ll be in that building one day. Right now, we want to help the dealership and help good people keep their jobs,” Jane said.
Jane said he doesn’t need convincing the church is doing the right thing by leasing its space, but that happened Thursday when he was in the building and an Uftring service department employee who was looking around gave him a hug and said, “Thank you.”
Uftring officials contacted Jane on Saturday, a day after the fire, to see if he’d be interested in leasing the church’s space. Details for the lease were worked out at a Monday morning meeting.
Weston said the dealership’s goal is to be in a rebuilt facility at the site of the burned-out facility in a year.
In the meantime, he’s anticipating the service department will open in the temporary dealership in about 30 days.
A permit from the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office is needed for vehicle sales to take place in the leased space. Weston is hoping to have the permit as early as Monday.
Uftring salespeople are working out of the Uftring Used Car Outlet in Washington, with all of the inventory parked at the temporary dealership.
A location is being sought for the Uftring Chevrolet body shop. Until then, body shop work is being done at Uftring body shops at Uftring Weston Chevrolet Cadillac in Peoria and the Uftring Automall in East Peoria.
Weston called the outpouring of support for Uftring Chevrolet “humbling.”
Caterpillar Inc. and the city of Peoria have donated office furniture and partitions for the temporary dealership, he said, and the city of Washington “has been fabulous. They’ve provided security (at the burned-out dealership) and Mayor Gary Manier has reached out to us every day, asking if there’s anything the city can do for us.”
Uftring Chevrolet has been at the Washington Road site since 1986. It was the Uftring Auto Group’s first dealership.
All of us at Ron Westphal Chevrolet with the Uftring Group a speedy and full recovery from this devastating event.