Courtesy Ford will soon have a new home.
Owner Al Rajaee announced plans this week to renovate the 68,000-square-foot building that had served as home to Norfolk’s Shopko store before it closed earlier this year.
The new location will feature a large 20-bay service center with a full array of services available to customers, as well as a massive indoor showroom with enough space for about 80 vehicles.
Rajaee said the showroom would be one of the largest in the state and would help create a destination dealership with a climate-controlled environment for those who are shopping for vehicles.
“In today’s market, it’s all about the customer experience and how well the customers are taken care of,” he said. “We believe that environment will create a dealership that’s also a destination to come to browse vehicles.”
Rajaee said his interest in the former Shopko building started as a rumor after he and his wife, Julie, purchased Courtesy Ford earlier this year. At the time they heard the rumor, they were looking for land on which to build a new dealership, he said.
“We dismissed (the rumor) as we were looking at other locations to build, but then we started entertaining the idea of the Shopko building and realized we can actually create a great environment for the customers.”
The new location will allow Courtesy Ford to expand its outdoor inventory of new and pre-owned vehicles, as well, Rajaee said.
The current store has a total of about 150 vehicles on its lot, but the plan is to stock between 400 and 500 new and pre-owned vehicles of all makes and models at the new location, he said.
Rajaee said he expects renovations on the building to begin this fall and to carry on through the winter so the Ford dealership can be operational in the new location within a year.
Ownership of the existing facility was retained by former Courtesy Ford owners Darrel and Linda Novacek, who retired after 34 years in the industry earlier this year. Their plans for the facility have not yet been announced.
Rajaee — who also owns the Cornhusker Auto dealerships in Norfolk — said he’s excited for the new plans for Courtesy Ford and wants the new location to be a premier dealership for Norfolk.
“Northeast Nebraska has been good to us over the last 30 years,” he said. “We wanted to build a dealership (residents) are proud of. ... We can’t wait to have it finally up and running.”