Archive for March 3, 2014


Update: 8/7/2015: CurbedLA reports that CIM Group owns both properties and plans (you guessed it) a mixed-use complex on the Ford dealership block:

The plans, presented last night at the West LA Neighborhood Council’s Planning and Land Use Committee, call for a four-story project, with 157 units that include 16 low-income apartments. There will be nearly 45,000 square feet of retail, though committee members voiced worry that a big box retailer, like CityTarget, would move in and bring on a traffic apocalypse (lots of underground parking is planned). CIM reps said there are no plans for something like that, but the committee wants the retail spaces broken up into smaller shops, as well as more open space and wide sidewalks. There’s time for adjustments as the project, designed by Gene Fong & Associates, is in the very early stages.

I’m sure some equally craptastic development will be planned for the Chrysler block.

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Just two weeks ago when I drove by Buerge Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram in West Los Angeles on Santa Monica Blvd., the lot was full of cars. Fast forward to today, it’s a ghost town and fork lifts are hauling out service equipment.

All the inventory is gone from Buerge Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge-Ram in West LA

All the inventory is gone from Buerge Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge-Ram in West LA

Whatever valuable tooling existed in the service department was being carted out. Perhaps it had been sold or it was being repossessed by a bank or leasing company.

Whatever valuable tooling existed in the service department was being carted out. Perhaps it had been sold or it was being repossessed by a bank or leasing company.

What happened, I don’t know for sure, but I can speculate: Terrible customer service finally put the nail in the coffin.

The tiny showroom was a humbled design that was never updated. It could have been done, but the owners didn't invest much in the facilities.

The tiny showroom was a humbled design that was never updated. It could have been renovated, but the owners didn’t invest much in the facilities.

I’ve shopped at Buerge before and I’ve never  had a good experience at this dealer.  And I know it wasn’t just me.  Many of the Yelp reviews were brutal.

I remember my last visit to the showroom. There were no sales associates anywhere to be seen – not even a receptionist. And there were three other customers wandering around looking at the cars on the showroom floor, wondering if anyone was going to bother to talk to them.  When one sales guy showed up, we had to let  him know who was waiting the longest, like we were at the prepared foods counter at Gelson’s. Naturally, I knew more about the car than the salesman – not surprising – but this guy seemed particularly clueless.  It must have been a horrible, depressing place to work.

The lot was very small by modern standards, but there was no place to grow. The rear abuts residential property and the dealership already occupied the full city block. The original lots just weren't very deep.

The lot was very small by modern standards, but there was no place to grow. The rear abuts residential property and the dealership already occupied the full city block. The original lots just weren’t very deep.

After I purchased my 2012 Dodge Charger from another more responsive dealer, I took my car to Buerge for service as it is the closest dealer to me in West Hollywood and I can ride the MTA 4 or 704 to a stop one block form the dealership.

The service people never found the electronic gremlins that plagued my outside temperature gauge (constantly wrong) or why the climate control system didn’t properly sense the cabin temperature, but I was horrified by the customer “lounge” which hadn’t been updated since the building was built, probably back in the 1970s. The ceiling tiles were stained from ancient water leaks. The coffee “station” could have come out of an episode of The Office. The windowless room was truly soul-sucking.

I took these pictures about 2 years ago. Note the ancient TV.

I took these pictures about 2 years ago. Note the ancient TV. And check out that fantastic coffee station. No expense spared, right?

It's like they bought the seats at a surplus auction from a defunct Greyhound Bus station.

It’s like they bought the seats at a surplus auction from a defunct Greyhound Bus station.

 

It's hard to see, but there were water stains on the ceiling tiles.

It’s hard to see, but there were water stains on the ceiling tiles.

The dealership website is still online, but when you call the toll-free number, after the initial recorded voice, you’re connected to a fast busy signal. As the unceremonious notice on the door says, they are “Closed for Business as of 2/17/2014.”

Like the way the owners ran the business, the "closed" sign was a simple notice with no information or explanation.  Maybe they lost their lease? Maybe the real estate was too valuable for a poorly-performing business? Who knows?

Like the way the owners ran the business, the “closed” sign was a simple notice with no information or explanation. Maybe they lost their lease? Maybe the real estate was too valuable for a poorly-performing business? Who knows?

This is bad news for Chrysler as this leaves the company with no store in Metro Los Angeles — the same problem plagues Chevrolet. My choices are now Van Nuys, Glendale, Downtown LA, Inglewood or San Fernando. None of them are on a transit route and none are convenient.

There’s a huge market for Chrysler-group vehicles and factory service in Metro LA. Perhaps another dealer group will take up the franchise in Santa Monica or even Mid-Wilshire.  Jeep is a hot brand, as is Ram.  Just because Buerge finally tanked doesn’t mean a well-run group can’t fill the vacuum that now exists. Any takers?

Update: April 22, 2014

I received a flyer in the mail from the “All-New” Hooman Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram of Los Angeles – NOT conveniently located Inglewood.  This is apparently the replacement for Buerge, but I wonder why I got a flyer for my minivan but not my Charger.  Odd.  However, I won’t be taking either my 2012 Dodge Charger or my 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan there for service.  It looks like I’ll stick with Crystal Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram Fiat in Cathedral City.

Hooman Chrysler Jeep P1 Edit

Hooman Chrysler P2

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