Posted May 25, 2016
After 90 successful years in downtown Kitchener, Gascho Automotive will be making their new home at our facility. Our Great Canadian Tirecraft Auto Centre will be integrated into their operation. An article was featured on Dave Gascho and his move to Manitou Drive in the May 13th edition of The Record, see below for full article.
Gascho Automotive leaving downtown after 90 years
KITCHENER — A business that has been a landmark in downtown Kitchener for almost 90 years — Gascho Automotive — is moving out of the city centre by the end of the month to make way for the redevelopment of an entire city block.
The family-owned automotive sales and service business, located at 481 King St. E., was asked to move by the London, Ont.-based property developer Drewlo Holdings Inc., which plans to build apartment buildings on the block bounded by King Street, Cameron Street, Charles Street and Madison Avenue.
"They tell me they want to be in the ground here very quickly," Dave Gascho, current owner of the business, said.
He is the third generation of the Gashco family to run the business and is overwhelmed with mixed emotions as he prepares to move it to 353 Manitou Dr. in Kitchener. That's where Great Canadian Coach Holidays is located, and Gascho Automotive will set up shop in part of it building.
"It will still be Gascho Automotive, but we will be in a much bigger space within the Great Canadian building and our car sales will be along Manitou Drive," Gascho said.
"It gives us more space, a newer facility," he said. "I think we have a pretty decent client base that will know where to find us, and we will find new clients at the new spot."
Drewlo told Gascho in late February that he had to be out of the King Street building by the end of April. He was able to extend that to the end of June. All of the equipment and tools needed for his new shop will be moved May 27, and he plans to be open for business on Manitou Drive by May 31.
An auction sale for the King Street property will be held June 18. That will be the official end of the Gascho family's business presence in the downtown.
The company's roots go back to 1923 when Gascho's grandfather, Emmanuel, and Nels Shantz, another mechanic, opened The Brunswick Garage at 16 Young St. in 1926. That's where a Williams Fresh Café coffee shop is now located in the Kitchener City Hall building.
Back then the city's population was 28,000. There were no traffic lights and parking restrictions were non-existent. A Durant automobile sold for $700; a Ford coupe with balloon tires sold for $525; a Willys Overland Six went for $1,275.
In 1934, the business moved to 236 King St. E., current location of the New City Supermarket. The company, then known as Gascho Motors, moved to 481 King St. E. in 1947. It became a Jeep dealer in the 1970s.
"There are some overwhelming feelings, there is a lot of work to do," Gascho said of the coming move. "I am excited to move to Manitou. I think there are fantastic opportunities there."
Gascho's move is the latest sign of the changes coming to Kitchener's downtown. Gascho first started thinking about selling the land when it became apparent Waterloo Region was going to build a light rail transit line that would run right past his property along Charles Street.
"I think the downtown core as a place for cars, its day has gone past," he said. "There are better areas to put the inventory out for display."
Gascho owned half of the block. The other half was owned by Paul Leung, owner of the Kitchener Honda dealership.
"When we heard rumblings of light rail transit coming, Paul and I were talking. We said: 'You know what? If we find someone who wants to buy the whole thing we will go together and sell it as a package.' And so that's what we did," Gascho said.
Fusion Homes bought the block in November 2010. But the Guelph-based company, which planned a large mixed-use development on the site, was frustrated by the timeline for downtown development incentives offered by the city. It sold the land to Drewlo last year.
Drewlo, a 55-year-old family business that owns and manages more than 7,800 apartment units in Kitchener, London, Burlington, Woodstock and Sarnia, also bought the former Waterloo Inn site and surrounding lands in December. Last week, it was announced that the hotel and conference centre on King Street North will reopen as the Inn of Waterloo next month.
The Gascho Automotive property has long attracted interest from developers. In 1989, Emmanuel Gascho's sons, Roy and Carl, sold the land to Toronto-based Tridel Developments, which planned to build condos.
But Tridel lost the land during the recession of 1991. Dave Gascho bought it back from the private lenders in 1992. He changed the name from Gascho Motors to Gascho Automotive at about the same time.
Article by Terry Pender, May 13, 2016