Over the past year, the Urbano family breathed new life into an old, deteriorating gas station that has been vacant for decades into a used car dealership called Urbano Motors.
Fabio Urbano, 27, and his father, Rocco Urbano, 59, have worked for the past year on the building at 564 Duanesburg Road. Rocco owns Urbano Electric, where the two work together.
Urbano Motors is expected to open by the end of the month or the first week of May.
“We did most of the work,” Fabio Urbano said of the property’s renovations. They also had help from R&B Contracting, Gimondo Sealing Services, City Glass, Febreno Construction and several others.
“It’s been a very challenging journey,” Rocco Urbano said of getting Urbano Motors ready for business. “It was a long and very interesting project to accomplish, but it’s always great when a father and son can work on a project together.”
“The building sat vacant for as long as I can remember,” Fabio said.
A few years ago, the Urbanos contacted the building’s former owner as it was always for sale, but a number of liens on the property and fees in back taxes were over $300,000.
“It wasn’t worth it to buy it with all that,” Fabio said. “But about two years ago, it went up for auction, and I was lucky enough to get it.”
Fabio and Rocco, who co-own the business, purchased the property for $60,000. They’ve spent about $100,000 remodeling the place, they said.
Getting the town Planning Commission’s approval wasn’t easy, Fabio Urbano said, and took as much as seven months to move forward.
“In the town of Rotterdam, this is going to be the only used car dealership,” he said. “The board hated the idea and actually voted it down. I had to really, really push to get it through.”
The Planning Commission was concerned about the dealership being “detrimental to the neighborhood” and had other issues, Fabio said.
“We had to make a few changes, but nothing major — just site work,” he said. “We changed some of the lighting on the building and other things, and eventually we got it to go through.”
Fabio said he has loved cars since he was a young teen and raced them in several states and in Canada for about five years.
“I’ve always loved cars, it’s always been a hobby of mine,” he said. “I love being able to drive different cars and I love speed. Working on them a bit, and driving. I love to drive.”
Since then, he’s dreamed of opening his own used-car dealership in town.
Urbano Motors will have about 20 used cars, and possibly other specialty vehicles here and there, for sale.
“The cars for sale will be just a few years old and newer,” Urbano said. “Nothing older than three or four years unless it’s a specialty car.
“When people think of used-car lots, they might think of the typical lot you’d see downtown,” he said. “The cars will be newer, and the whole image as a dealership will be modern-looking. My plan is eventually, to get into exotic cars.”
The vehicles are usually acquired through auctions at large car dealerships and bank repossessions, according to Urbano .
“I’ll never limit what I’m going to have,” he said, and mentioned a 1976 Chevy truck he has for sale when the dealership opens. “I’m always open to adding new things.”
The cars at the new dealership will offer a variety of manufacturers, and will generally be sold for $10,000 and up. The business will not offer repair service.
“As of right now, the town said I can’t do anything other than sales, but in the future, maybe that could change.”
“We are hoping to be able to expand the business in the future,” Rocco said. “We want to please our customers . . . and attract customers in all price ranges.”
Fabio Urbano said the business’s website for more information is still in the works, and will be available soon.
Reach Gazette reporter Kate Seckinger at 395-3113, [email protected] or @KateSeckinger on Twitter.