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Construction revs up for Tesla center in Lealman

Veronica Brezina

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A Tesla automobile. Unsplash photo by Charlie Deets.

Tesla Motors will be arriving at the new 102,410-square-foot Lealman store in the coming months as construction nears completion. 

The walls have gone vertical, the framework is in place and a new roof is getting installed at 4601 34th St. N.

Developer Rob Truett, principal at the Delay Beach-based Truett Realty Group, is behind the project to transform the former Kane’s Furniture liquidation center in Lealman into a state-of-the-art delivery and repair center for Tesla. 

Tesla’s store locations are referred to as centers rather than standard dealerships due to Tesla’s direct sales model – directly selling the vehicles to customers without the use of an independent dealer – which strays from the traditional big auto business model.

The new center, which will have a showroom in the front of the building, may not only spur more activity in Lealman but will also become the first Tesla center in the area. 

The site plan of the Tesla sales and repair center at the former Kane’s Furniture liquidation center. Image: Pinellas County records.

“The building was wide open; it was a blank canvas to work with and allowed us to get as creative as possible,” Truett said, recalling when he set foot on the 4.21-acre site. He has worked with Tesla on building multiple stores. “This gives Tesla a big presence in St. Pete and it’s emerging as a tech hub. It coincides well. Personally, in having family ties here, this project is very special to me.”

A breakdown of the Tesla center:

  • The showroom will be roughly 3,000 square feet. The plans show Tesla’s showroom that will front 34th Street; delivery will take place out of this location for both vehicles ordered online and on-site as most of the fleet is custom ordered.
  • Roughly 35,000 to 40,000 square feet will be dedicated to providing service and repairs. The maintenance services will be located in the middle of the building.
  • There will also be a designated portion of the building dedicated to storing parts, 8,000 to 10,000 square feet.
  • The vehicle storage will be 50,000 square feet, which will primarily be used for the ordered vehicles awaiting delivery.

Truett closed on the property in April for $13 million, taking out a roughly $17.687 million loan from Valley National Bank. 

Earlier this year, the project was approved through the county commission and Lealman Community Redevelopment Agency. Truett said he gives much credit to the BOCC and Lealman CRA for working with him on the plans for the project.

Before having the permits in hand, Truett, familiar with the supply chain issues nationwide, started buying the necessary equipment to ensure his team was prepared to begin work as soon as they received the permits. 

Truett said the development team is doing the finishing touches and will be going through inspections and closing out permits to get it ready to receive the certificate of occupancy for the turn-key store. 

Truett is working with St. Petersburg-based Scherer Construction as the general contractor. 

“I love redaptive reuse, it’s sustainable and 34th Street is a major plus, it’s very densely populated and is close to other dealerships,” Truett said, naming the nearby BMW and Land Rover dealerships. 

“There’s so much potential for this redaptive reuse strategy. The county is dense and needs to get creative, as there isn’t a lot of undeveloped land,” he said, noting he desires to embark on more of these types of projects in Lealman or incorporated Pinellas County. 

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1 Comment

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    Brian Green

    November 9, 2022at5:48 pm

    This is great news and exactly the type of redevelopment we need.

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