• Stores: 104 used car; 5 new car dealerships
• Location: 26 states
• Employees: 15,000
• Sales: $8.9 billion in fiscal 2011
• Net earnings: $380.9 million in fiscal 2011
CarMax, one of the nation's largest used car retailers, will start work soon on a $15 million to $25 million superstore near Hamilton Place mall, the company said Friday.
The opening for the superstore, which will have a 36,000-square-foot showroom, should be late this year or early 2012, said Elia Imler, a spokeswoman for company.
"We like this location," she said about the site that formerly held the Overnite truck terminal at Shallowford Road and Interstate 75. "It has real good visibility."
The company purchased the 8.9-acre parcel in mid-2009 for $5.5 million. But it withheld a construction timetable after CarMax cut back on new building during the recession and auto industry meltdown.
On Friday, Imler said the Richmond, Va.-based retailer is moving ahead with the superstore that will employ between 50 and 70 people.
She said the lot will hold between 250 and 350 vehicles and also a service area.
At the Chattanooga site Friday, workers were digging up concrete from the truck terminal as they prep for construction.
Ken Hunt, owner of Hunt Nissan on Highway 153 and president of the Chattanooga Automobile Dealers Association, said CarMax has a niche program focused on used cars in which it can shift vehicles among several facilities.
"To have a big retailer, it can't be a bad thing," he said, noting new jobs and business growth. "Competition is not bad."
J.Ed. Marston, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce's vice president of marketing, cited the new investment in an environment when retail and job creation has come back slowly from the recession.
He said the city is attracting attention from companies which see Chattanooga as outperforming the state and nation in terms of growing jobs.
CarMax, which offers no-haggle pricing, already has superstores in Knoxville, Nashville and Memphis as well as Atlanta and Birmingham.
According to The Wall Street Journal, prices for used cars hit a record high last month. Production cutbacks during the recession and the problems in Japan have added between $1,500 to $3,000 to the price of some used cars just in the last six months, the newspaper said.