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After Original Deal Falls Through, Birmingham Says No to Ducati

A second request to open a Ducati motorcycle dealership was denied Monday after the applicant refused to provide key details, noting Ducati did not want certain information about their dealerships released.

It looks like Birmingham may not be getting a Ducati motorcycle dealership after all.

The Birmingham City Commission voted down a second request to open the high-end motorcycle dealership after an earlier deal fell through and commissioners were provided with few details about the second proposal.

Charlie Knoll — who's father runs a Harley Davidson dealership in Burlington, IA — came before the Birmingham City Commission Monday, asking to open a Ducati dealership at 670 S. Old Woodward Ave. Currently, the site is the home of Azar's Oriental Rugs, though Planning Director Jana Ecker said the rug shop's owners are looking to retire soon and lease the building to a new business.

This isn't the first time, however, a Ducati dealership has come before the Birmingham City Commission. In late August, commissioners unanimously approved a request from Rochester Hills businessman Daniel Cable to open a Ducati dealership at 394 S. Old Woodward, with Commissioner Tom McDaniel noting the specialty Italian motorcycle dealer was a great fit for Birmingham.

However on Monday, Knoll that Cable's deal with Ducati North America soon after fell through, with Cable later telling Patch that he hadn't yet received official approval from Ducati at the time of the original city commission meeting.

According to Knoll, Cable also revealed key details about Ducati during his presentation to the city commission — including photos of Ducati products — not distributed for release by the company.

"The reason why we're here is simply because the previous applicant had made some mistakes with Ducati North America and shared some information he was not allowed to share," Knoll said, adding "Ducati has a problem with their plans going public."

While withholding certain details — including everything from a mock-up of the proposed dealership's exterior to detailed floor plans — may be OK for Ducati, it wasn't OK for commissioners.

While Knoll said floorplans for the space weren't going to be available for at least 15 days, he stressed that he needed city commission approval immediately so that he could sign a lease agreement. There are several businesses interested in the Azar's Rugs space, he said, and without approval, he didn't have plans to move forward with the lease.

Knoll did said he — unlike Cable — had a letter of understanding with Ducati North America, allowing him to open a dealership.

However, commissioners reminded Knoll that the reason he was before them is because selling motorcycles is a regulated use in Birmingham and is subject to approval since surrounding businesses and residents need to be taken into consideration.

"I appreciate your candor and your honesty," Mayor Pro Tem Scott Moore said. "But you and Ducati need to understand this is a regulated use and as a regulated use, you have to meet certain standards. It would appear on the face that those standards can be met. But we do not have adequate information."

"We would love to have Ducati," Moore added. "It would be great. It's been proved before. We thought it was a great opportunity. But we can't go forward with this tonight."

Besides the general lack of specificity, commissioners also said they needed more information on noise levels at the proposed dealership, particularly since Azar's Rugs borders a residential neighborhood.

Cecilia Brown November 28, 2012 at 01:58 PM
I believe that is wrong location for the proposed Ducati dealership location.
Stephanie Schmid November 28, 2012 at 09:02 PM
I think that it would be a mistake for Birmingham to allow a dealership of this caliber to choose a city like Royal Oak or Bloomfield based on 3 blocks distance.
Philip Westfield November 29, 2012 at 03:45 AM
The city does all kind of weird things. They make some businesses jump through hoops while turning their heads to pretend they don't know about other businesses being operated in residential neighborhoods out of their basements?

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