In what’s described as a game-changer for the village of Shiloh and future development, the new Auffenberg Auto Mall opened in early July and celebrated with a grand opening July 22.
The $40 million development is on 36 acres on Frank Scott Parkway East, east of the Green Mount Crossing Shopping Center, behind Target, and adjacent to Interstate 64.
Auffenberg has dealerships for Ford, Chrysler Dodge Jeep, Nissan, Kia, Mazda, and Volkswagen that are currently open, with nearly 1,000 pre-owned cars on site.
Plans for an Auffenberg Hyundai about 30 acres away at Frank Scott Parkway and Fortune Boulevard is in the works.
The company put in extensive site work, public streets and utility extensions, and a new traffic signal was installed.
The festive ribbon-cutting July 20 featured a tour, free food, prizes, giveaways, and a performance by the OTHS Marching Panthers drumline.
On the Auffenberg Dealer Group Facebook page, the company said they were thrilled with the welcome and the turnout making their grand opening special.
“We’d like to thank the community for the support. We are so happy to be here. We cannot thank you enough for coming out to celebrate with us today. Thank you to the O’Fallon-Shiloh Chamber of Commerce team for everything, to the OTHS Panther Bands for the amazing performance, to Sugarfire 618m Takozz, @thesweetside and Soulcial Kitchen — all the food trucks who helped us feed everyone today.”
Additionally, Auffenberg is sponsoring a free outdoor community Sunset Concert Series that started July 22 with the Well Hungarians and will continue with Old Salt Union on Thursday, Aug. 11, and the Retronerds on Thursday, Sept. 8, from 7-9 p.m. in the big field next to their complex, 1108 Auffenberg Avenue in Shiloh.
Now being managed by the third and fourth generation, Auffenberg is a family-owned dealership that started in Belleville in 1942. After he returned from serving in the Navy during World War II, James Auffenberg Sr. sold vehicles in Belleville, and later expanded to O’Fallon and St. Louis. He died in 2011 at age 88.
Jamie Auffenberg Jr., president of the Auffenberg Dealer Group, said they saw the new site as an opportunity to grow the business and have the flexibility to expand.
In 1989, the St. Clair Auto Mall began construction on 23 acres on U.S. Highway 50, with the final structure built in 2004. That area was undermined and subject to mine subsidence.
Because of the site constraints at their previous location and the demands for larger and upgraded facilities, Auffenberg said the buildings and parking lots needed major upgrades, as required by individual manufactures and franchisors.
Terry Johnson, a commercial real estate broker with the Barber Murphy Group Inc., started working with the company in 2015 to find the right fit for a replacement site.
“Sites were considered along the Interstate 64 corridor, including Fairview Heights, O’Fallon and Shiloh, with requirements of a minimum of 25 acres, interstate visibility and access and, most importantly, had not been undermined by coal,” Johnson said.
In March 2017, they struck a deal with the village of Shiloh.
Shiloh agreed to offer Auffenberg a sales tax rebate worth up to $14 million to move.
St. Clair County boom towns, O’Fallon and Shiloh are linked in several ways, so if Shiloh’s economy gets a boost, it also helps its neighbor, said O’Fallon Mayor Herb Roach.
“O’Fallon works with Shiloh by helping with many of Shiloh’s city services and many students utilize O’Fallon schools. So, in looking at the numbers, I hope that this agreement is beneficial financially for both Shiloh and the dealership,” he said.
Remarks from former Shiloh mayor
Former Shiloh Mayor Jim Vernier had explained, with a $40 million-plus development, the sales tax incentive is 35% of qualified expenses capped at $14 million.
“It ends June 30, 2034, with or without cap being met. There is no TIF (Tax Increment Financing) on this project, sales tax only,” Vernier said while still mayor.
“Without financial assistance from the village through a sales tax sharing agreement, the development project would not be possible,” Johnson said. “It is important to note that the village will not be advancing any funds, guaranteeing any bonds, and has no financial obligation but to rebate a portion of new sales tax dollars coming to the village from the project.
The initial 36 acres were purchased from BJC after they built Memorial Hospital Shiloh. Sixty acres remain that are for sale.
Auffenberg Shiloh LLC purchased an additional 6.77 acres at 2001 Frank Scott Parkway East from Progress East Healthcare (BJC) in November 2020, Barber Murphy states on their website.
Prior to Interstate 64 opening in the metro-east in 1975, that area of St. Clair County was mainly agricultural.
Game-changer for Shiloh
Vernier had said the move would be a game-changer for the village.
“I’m proud they selected the village of Shiloh. Working with them has been a pleasure. This is a great new development for the village and continues to show that development opportunities in Shiloh are positive,” he said at the announcement.
Vernier, who had been mayor for 20 years, left office May 3, 2021. Trustee Bob Weilmuenster won the April 6, 2021, municipal election.
“People are very excited about the direction we’re going. We’re getting positive feedback,” Weilmuenster said. “I appreciate all the previous mayors’ work. We’ve only had three mayors in 60 years before me — (Raymond) Jefferson, (Norman) Acker and Vernier. What they did was stepping stones to get us here. They built the first steps. We’re pointing in the right direction, and going forward.”
Weilmuenster pointed to the new 40-bed Rehabilitation Institute of Southern Illinois, which opened on Frank Scott Parkway in mid-February. They provide inpatient physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech language pathology for stroke and other complex neurological and orthopedic conditions.
‘We’re getting phone calls right and left’
The land surrounding the new Auffenberg location has been developed in the past five years, with Memorial Hospital Shiloh and the Siteman Cancer Center to the north, The Savannah luxury apartment complex on the south and the Parkway 64 Corporate Center west of the city, which is home to Edward Jones, Hilliard Lyons, Morgan Stanley, Davida, The Godard School.
The New Heartland Women’s Healthcare Center, U.S. Dept of Veterans Affairs, and others.
A 100-acre field at the corner of Frank Scott Parkway West and Green Mount Road has been empty since plans for the Three Springs property fell through about 20 years ago, but Weilmuenster said the new auto dealerships is sparking interest.
“We’re getting phone calls right and left,” Weilmuenster said. “There’s a lot of interest in that area along Frank Scott Parkway.”
Frank Scott Parkway will be under development for several more years. New expansion plans include work up to Cross Street in Shiloh.
Sales tax revenue
The sales tax revenue will be a major gain for Shiloh. Last year, the three top sales tax revenue producers were Target, Dierbergs and Wilke Window and Door.
“It’s going to be great for the village for many different facets,” Weilmuenster said. “Not just because of having another dealership and the revenue that comes with it, but this is a really big win for the school districts … to have revenue to support those school districts. The real estate property taxes … most of it goes to the schools. So that property tax will be extremely beneficial for the Shiloh schools.”
Weilmuenster said within the next three months, they should have a good idea what anticipated revenues look like.
O’Fallon is estimated to lose $750,000 to $1 million annually in sales tax revenue, with the loss of the auto mall.
Win for O’Fallon, too
However, O’Fallon isn’t totally empty-handed in the deal. The site is in the O’Fallon School District, which encompasses the northeast quarter of Caseyville Township and all of O’Fallon Township, except that portion lying east of Silver Creek. The district consists of seven schools — two junior highs and five elementary.
O’Fallon Alderman Todd Roach, who served on the school board and as a trustee in O’Fallon Township prior to his 2019 election, said this is a win for the schools because it could mean as much as $150,000 to District 90 in additional property tax revenue.
“Bottom line, there are some losers and some winners, but the dealership stays in the overall community supporting the community through jobs, access to great vehicles and giving back through their charitable efforts,” Alderman Roach said.
Jamie Auffenberg sold the O’Fallon property to a real estate investment trust, which has been leasing out the location.
St. Clair Auto Mall update
Mayor Roach said interest has increased after all the cars were recently moved off the lot. City officials had a meeting in mid-July, discussing possibilities with Capital Automotive Real Estate Investment Trust, a Virginia-based real estate company that specializes in auto dealerships.
“We’ve been having several good conversations with different firms. We’re not releasing any of those yet because it’s too early to say anything,” Mayor Roach said.
Dee Auffenberg, a social media spokesman for the company, said the dealership group will continue to support O’Fallon and the local businesses and charities.
This story was originally published July 27, 2022 8:59 AM.