Billion buys land on 12th Street as businesses plan moves, closings

Billion Automotive has purchased 1.5 acres of property along West 12th Street up to Marion Road, and several businesses are planning to move or close.

“We wanted to have more visibility for the whole business,” said Jim Heine, vice president at Billion. “We haven’t made a definitive decision what we’re going to do. We just want to control the property there.”

Billion has owned property at 5100 W. 12th St. since 2015 and opened a customer care center there earlier this year.

“We have a service body shop and parts department there, and it’s mostly internal for our cars, but eventually I think it will be for outside customers as well,” Heine said.

Billion bought the land west of its center up to the corner of Marion Road. The property was owned by Mike DeJonge, who also owns Western Meat & Locker there.

Western Meat & Locker is planning to close May 1.

His father started the business in 1960. The last day in business will be May 1.

“Our building is over 80 years old. It was actually built in the ’30s, so it’s pretty much shot. We’d have to completely remodel, and at my age it doesn’t make sense,” DeJonge said.

He’s been swamped with customers stocking up on everything from ground beef to bacon as word has gotten out about the closure.

“Right now we can’t keep up with the orders coming in. People are finding out we’re closing and it’s been bananas,” he said.

Shop ‘N Cart might expand

Dave Grevlos, president of Shop ‘N Cart, has memories of his location at 5112 W. 12th St. that go back 50 years.

“I remember going in there with dirt floors. My dad and grandpa and I cleaned it up to turn it into a store,” he said. “It was on the edge of town.”

He has five other locations, including another one on 12th Street, and likely will add one once the store on Billion’s property closes.

“I have some ideas,” he said. “It won’t impact me too negatively.”

He can keep the store open through June and can move his employees to other locations as he works on a potential new store, he said.

“It’s an old building I never did own. We just ran it month to month waiting for the inevitable. I don’t have hard feelings. Nothing was done behind my back or anything.”

Because he knew it was for sale and he couldn’t buy just that property, Grevlos didn’t do much to modernize the store but does have fond memories of it.

“That store is like a dinosaur. You don’t put a convenience store up like that any more. It was like a small town store in a big city, and that’s kind of how I run all my businesses.”

Scuba Center moving

Landshark Scuba & Snorkel Center, at 5208 W. 12th St., is moving about 100 yards north to a space on Marion Road.

“We found a little bit bigger spot,” manager Phil Tassler said. “We’ve got access to the building in the next few days, so we can go in and do some renovation and get it set up.”

The store, which sells gear and accessories for scuba diving and snorkeling as well as training, has been open 12 years in its location.

“We’ve been real busy. We’re a scuba shop in the middle of cornfields, but we’re close to the airport and you can go to any beach in the world,” Tassler said.

The shop hasn’t set a moving timeframe but will be out of its current location in June, he said.

“This isn’t any big surprise. It’s been for sale forever,” he said.

The Billion purchase also includes the former Midwest Auto Body building. That business closed at the end of the year.

No timeframe has been established for any Billion development and no decision has been made about demolishing the buildings, Heine said.

“We do have some ideas. We’re just a little premature,” he said.

Billion buys land on 12th Street as businesses plan moves, closings

Billion Automotive has purchased 1.5 acres of property along West 12th Street up to Marion Road, and several businesses are planning to move or close.

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