Online used auto retailer Carvana Co. has made it official: It plans to put a huge inspection and reconditioning center off Interstate 95 in southern Chesterfield County.
The center would employ 400 workers, according to an announcement from Gov. Ralph Northam’s office.
The company plans to invest $25 million to create the 191,000-square-foot vehicle inspection facility and parking spaces for thousands of vehicles. The center would be located on 180 acres along Woods Edge Road and I-95 near Ruffin Mill Road.
Chesterfield’s Board of Supervisors approved a rezoning request for the project in late October, although nearby residents opposed the project because of the additional weekday trips of trucks using nearby roads and the added noise from trucks hauling vehicles in and out and from the maintenance building.
“Carvana has been growing extremely rapidly over the last several years, and we are working to bring The New Way to Buy a Car to even more customers all the time,” said Benjamin Morens, Carvana’s director of logistics. “As part of our efforts to scale the business, we’re looking forward to working with Chesterfield County and the state of Virginia to open a vehicle inspection and reconditioning center, and becoming a member of the community.”
Arizona-based Carvana declined to say when construction would begin on the center or when it would open.
Garrett Hart, Chesterfield’s economic development director, said he understands that construction should begin in the spring and be completed by late 2020 or early 2021.
The site plan for Carvana’s project is now going through the county approval process and should be completed in late January, he said.
“It is great for Chesterfield to be able to create 400 jobs for a modern take on how you buy a car,” Hart said. Carvana is “committed to quality service, quality project and a quality site.”
In addition to the 191,000-square-foot building, Carvana would use about 40 acres of the site for storing about 9,000 vehicles awaiting shipment.
No sales will be conducted at the center, and the public will not be able to go there to pick up a vehicle after ordering one on the Carvana website.
The site would not have one of the company’s signature automobile-dispensing towers. Carvana has 23 of these car vending machine towers where customers can automatically retrieve a vehicle in markets including Raleigh, N.C., and Washington, D.C.
Instead, the reconditioning center would take used cars that the company acquires and put each vehicle through a 150-point inspection process and minor body repair to get it ready for sale. Once a vehicle is certified, the company uses automated photo booths that capture a 360-degree exterior and interior virtual tour of each vehicle to be added to the company’s website inventory.
A vehicle is stored on the site until it is delivered to a customer’s home, a designated location, or to one of the company’s signature automobile-dispensing towers.
Carvana operates six inspection and reconditioning centers — in Georgia, New Jersey, Texas, Arizona, Indiana and Ohio, the company’s regulatory filings show.
The centers provide fulfillment to 100 metropolitan areas across a substantial portion of the U.S., the company said in its filings.
Carvana expanded to the Richmond market in June 2016 by offering its vehicle delivery service.
“The company’s new location in Chesterfield County will provide strategic access to major thoroughfares traversing the country, as well as a robust labor force to support Carvana’s continued growth in U.S. markets,” Virginia’s secretary of commerce and trade, Brian Ball, said in a statement.
Virginia successfully competed with North Carolina, Ohio and Tennessee for the project, the governor’s office said.
The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with Chesterfield to secure the project for Virginia. Northam approved a $360,000 grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund to assist the county with the project.
Carvana also is eligible for a Major Business Facility Job Tax Credit for new, full-time jobs created.