CUYAHOGA FALLS — A building well-known in its day for hosting national country music acts, rock groups, the occasional boxing match and sometimes riotous teen dances is undergoing a major tune-up.
The Primm family owners of Cascade Auto Group are converting the former Boot Scoot’n Saloon, which they bought seven or so years ago, into a state-of-the-art service center for their high-end Audi Cuyahoga Falls dealership on State Road.
Work on the $4 million project is scheduled to be completed in early February.
Locals of a certain age certainly recognize the building, which sits just behind the road-front Audi dealership that opened in 2016. Prior to the Boot Scoot getting new owners and a country music rebranding in 1993 — it closed for good in 2004 — the place was the rock-centered Akron Agora and, before that, the disco-era Big Apple night club.
The building gained notoriety in part because of fights and, in one instance, a riot involving hundreds of youths at a Sunday "teen night" event in December 1991. Performers over the decades included Vanilla Ice, Trace Adkins, Waylon Jennings, Confederate Railroad, Kid Wicked and many, many others. The Boot Scoot also hosted professional boxing matches at times.
But that was a long time ago. Since closing, the former club has been used primarily for storage.
And now the 31,000-square-foot structure is being repurposed once again, with the exterior dimensions staying the same but the facade and exterior side walls matching the Audi showroom decor.
The inside will be thoroughly revamped; interior demolition began over the summer. (Yes, hints of the former dance floor and pieces of club decor remain behind.)
Where the former Boot Scoot could handle 1,750 patrons, the service center instead will hold, among other things, 18 Audi service bays, with room for six more as demand grows, the Primms say. One corner is earmarked for electric vehicles.
Much of the design and work, being done by Renier Construction out of Columbus, is intended to be upgradable.
The interior also is designed to recruit and retain female technicians.
"We’re reaching out, trying to find new employees," said Pat Primm, one of the sibling partners in Cascade with brother Mike and sister Michelle.
"We are actually building male and female locker rooms for technicians," Pat Primm said. "My sister’s philosophy is, build it and they will come."
The company has had female technicians but does not currently, he said.
"We want to plan for the future and have female technicians," said Michelle Primm. "Great career."
Technicians can make as much as $70,000 to $90,000 a year, with starting pay above $55,000, she said.
"These are great jobs that don’t require $100,000 in college debt," she said.
Amenities for employees include a large break and conference room complete with a full kitchen and a big-screen TV.
Cascade will be hiring as many as 15 people, including technicians, parts people, drivers and others, for the new service center, said Mike Primm. The business currently employs 102 people.
The Audi center helps in another way by opening up service bays elsewhere on Cascade’s 21-acre campus for their Subaru and Mazda dealerships, Pat Primm said.
"Subaru, because of their fantastic growth over the last 10 years, is about 4,000 service bays short nationally. Audi, because of their excellent growth, is about 2,000 bays short," Primm said. "So, there’s definitely a need. … What this does for us, we get a double benefit out of it."
They draw Audi customers from a large part of Ohio stretching from southern Cuyahoga County to the Columbus area, he said.
The 11 lifts now used in another building for Audi vehicles will be turned over for Subaru and Mazda work, he said.
"We’re getting two shops for the price of one, basically," he said.
New service technology for increasingly sophisticated vehicles will include installing a wheel alignment machine that not only keeps wheels true but also is needed to keep front and rear safety/collision sensors and cameras properly aimed and functioning.
"You can’t just do a simple wheel alignment," said Eric Nisly, who will be the center’s foreman and is just one of five or six Audi Master Guild Technicians in Ohio.
Depending on how a vehicle is equipped, front-facing radars and sensors are all set off what is called the "thrust angle" of a vehicle’s rear axle and need to be recalibrated at times, he said.
While the former Boot Scoot will be predominantly for Audi, one area will be used to detail all Cascade vehicles.
The interior footprint also includes a parts department and one area where customers can, depending on the driving season, store their winter and warm-weather tires.
Jim Mackinnon covers business. He can be reached at 330-996-3544 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him @JimMackinnonABJ on Twitter or www.facebook.com/JimMackinnonABJ