AURORA -- It appears Aurora will soon become part of the catchy Liberty Ford jingle "Liberty's in....," as a tax abatement agreement between the city and car dealership nears completion.

If Liberty Ford gets the requested 15-year, 75 percent tax abatement it is looking for, it will move from Solon and build a $8.5 million campus-style dealership on a 13-acre parcel on the northeast corner of Route 42 and Squires Road.

The company plans to bring $120 million in payroll and more than $1.2 billion in retail sales over a 20-year period beginning in 2018. Of that, a minimum of $18 million in sales tax will go to Portage County and a minimum of $2.4 million in income tax will go to Aurora.

Liberty officials estimate the company will generate 50 percent more business than it is doing at its current location. Liberty would bring 57 full- and 10 part-time employees to Aurora initially. Officials estimate that number will increase to 86 in the first three years of operation here.

The tax abatement agreement was on second reading at City Council's June 12 meeting. If approved, the agreement would pave the way for the dealership's move.

According to Aurora Mayor Ann Womer Benjamin, the tax abatement would save Liberty $1.7 million over the life of the abatement. She estimated the dealership would see an annual payroll of $3.4 million and invest another $7 million in construction.

"It [the abatement] should be approved this Monday (June 12)," Womer Benjamin said June 8. "They have all their approvals except some final engineering plans that need approved. And we are expecting those plans will move along fairly quickly. "

And while ground officially has not been broken for the project, some trees have been cleared, and dirt has been moved around for the soon-to-begin construction, Womer Benjamin said.

The abatement was first brought before Council on May 22. "It's wonderful," Womer Benjamin said of the soon-to-be new tenants. "They have been very good to work with and they are bringing all their employees from Solon."

Womer Benjamin said the plans are "moving along" and expressed excitement for Aurora and its new partnership with Liberty.

"We are thrilled they are coming to Aurora," Womer Benjamin said. "They are a business with a great track record and will certainly add to our financial base in a positive way. I think it will be a very positive addition for Aurora."

According to Ed Begue, a representative of Liberty Investment Group LTD, the dealership will consist of three buildings -- 23,000 square feet for auto sales and service, 27,000 square feet for a body shop and 7,800 square feet for a quick lube facility.

Each building will be a single story with a height not over 30 feet, he said. The design will use Western Reserve style architecture. Egress and ingress for the facility will be off Squires Road.

Liberty Vice President Michael Herrick did not respond to requests for comment.


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