Of all the cars my wife and I have owned, one of our favorites was our Honda Fit. Or, should I say, our Honda Fits, since we had two. Our first was a gasoline powered vehicle which has served us well for many years. Our second was a relatively rare Honda Fit EV, the electric version of the car we loved so much. While this electric vehicle‘s range is limited by today’s standards – 80 miles at best – we designed it for local driving only, so that wasn’t a problem.
Both Hondas were obtained from Honda Redwood City, when that dealership was located at El Camino Real and Hopkins Avenue. In mid-2016, however, work began at 777 Industrial Road in San Carlos on a new home for what would eventually be called âPrimo Hondaâ. The resulting building is interesting: a mostly two-story structure on stilts that served as both an exhibition hall and a service center. The somewhat unusual design left almost the entire ground floor of the plot – including the land under the building – free for car storage.
Honda Redwood City closed on Friday June 22, 2018 and Primo Honda opened the following Monday. As a customer, I remember visiting Primo Honda at least twice: once for routine maintenance and once, reluctantly, to return our Honda Fit EV, which had reached the end of its lease (the electric Fits were not sold, but only rented).
After building a whole new structure designed specifically for a car dealership, you’d think Primo Honda would stick around for a while in order to cushion the cost of their new building. So imagine my surprise when I learned in November 2020 that after less than three years they were planning to shut down and that a developer, Presidio Bay Ventures, was waiting backstage with plans to transform the building from the concession in a lifetime scientific research and development center. Presidio Bay Ventures’ proposal was approved by the San Carlos Planning Commission last June and appears to be moving forward. Primo Honda closed its doors about a week ago. Fortunately, a replacement, Honda San Carlos, immediately opened in a location to the north at 268 Industrial Road.
I went to the new site this week to check out Honda San Carlos. The new dealership couldn’t be more different from the old one. While the previous one had excellent highway visibility, Honda San Carlos is tucked away on a relatively quiet section of Industrial Road. Also, instead of a bespoke multi-story building, Honda San Carlos operates from a large metal warehouse-like structure (which I guess is the dealership’s service center) preceded by a portable building. double-wide which apparently contains the dealer’s sales offices. Right now the dealership has a temporary feeling, but things will undoubtedly be better once the dealership has had time to settle into their new digs. Construction works are currently underway, although so far this appears to be limited to the creation of new roads and paved parking areas.
I’m glad we still have a Honda dealership in our area. Not only do Honda generally make good products, I would hate our region to lose another car dealership and the taxes it generates. But dealers are not immune to market forces and external pressures such as high property values. From time to time, dealerships move or even close completely. For example, in 2009 the Dodge dealership in Redwood City closed and the site was redeveloped into a 264-unit Radius Apartments complex (Redwood City eventually tracked down a Dodge dealership, which is now on Bair Island Road ). Then, although they remain in place for now, it looks like Towne Ford and Hopkins Acura will be moving (at least) soon, given that just over a year ago Redwood City approved the big one. ELCO Yards project, which will bring offices and dense housing to the sites where these two concessions currently operate. Finally, while not a long-time dealership, the newly completed four-story mixed-use building at 851 Main Street includes a small, one-story retail building that was originally built – in 1922, incredibly enough – as a showroom for Clifton Motors, a retailer of Chevrolet motor cars. While the preserved historic space is certainly not used for selling cars (some Chevrolets from the early 1920s would look great behind those refurbished windows, though!), It will be something of a retail operation.
Speaking of Chevrolet vehicles, after my wife and I returned our rented Honda Fit EV, we headed over to Boardwalk Chevrolet in Redwood City, where we rented our current electric car: a Chevy Bolt. If anything, we love our new EV – with its significantly better lineup – even more than the previous one. And I’m glad I was once again able to support a local dealership.
Greg Wilson is the creator of Walking Redwood City, a blog inspired by his walks through Redwood City and adjacent communities. He can be contacted at [email protected] Follow Greg on Twitter @walkingRWC.