EchoPark car dealership to open in Columbus, Georgia


EchoPark Automotive will open its location on the vacant lot at 6100 Whitesville Road, the site of a former BB&T bank next to a Circle K gas station and the Bradley Park Crossing shopping centre.

A nationwide used-car dealership that does business primarily online plans to open a location in Columbus, if a rezoning application is approved.

EchoPark Automotive – which has locations across the United States, including Atlanta; Charlotte, North Carolina and Greenville, South Carolina – will open its location in vacant land at 6100 Whitesville Road, the site of a former BB&T bank next to a Circle K gas station and the Bradley Park Crossing mall.

That’s according to Slaton Whatley, operations manager of Whatley Oil and Auto Parts, the company that owns the property.

“These are all used, low-mileage, relatively new vehicles,” Whatley said. “They don’t sell 15-year-old cars with 100,000 kilometres. …I was actually looking earlier today and had a hard time finding anything older than 2017.”

The chain, part of the larger Sonic Automotive, is based in Charlotte, as is its parent company. It allows customers to buy, sell or trade used vehicles online or in-store and view competitor prices on mobile devices inside dealerships.

The property will serve as an EchoPark distribution center, Whatley said; When customers buy a car online, they pick it up at one of the distribution points.

The business model is similar to that of Carvana, except that EchoPark does not deliver the vehicle to the buyer’s home.

“You order the car and overnight they ship the car to that location,” Whatley said.

When could it open?

The company’s rezoning application needs to be approved first, and that could take a while: it hasn’t had its first council reading yet, and the zoning checklist isn’t complete until 8 p.m. %.

If the rezoning is approved, EchoPark will have to do interior work on the building, Whatley said. There is bulletproof glass still mounted inside, plus a safe.

Whatley told LE that EchoPark will use the bank’s existing building for its operations, meaning it will not need to be demolished. And there will be no structural changes such as tearing down walls, he said. This will primarily be “aesthetic work”, to match the colors of the building with EchoPark’s green and white color scheme.

“There won’t be any major changes,” Whatley said. “We are not building anything else on the property.”

Whatley said, based on conversations “a few months ago,” that depending on when the rezoning will be finalized, EchoPark is targeting the first quarter of 2022 as a targeted opening date.

“It should be relatively quick once the rezoning is done,” he said.

Ledger-Enquirer reporter Joshua Mixon covers local business and development. He is a graduate of the University of Georgia and owner of the coolest dog, Finn. You can follow him on Twitter @JoshDMixon.