Tom Kelley moving dealerships, Menards making improvements in business deal

Tom Kelley announces plans to establish a new auto mall adjacent to Menards off Illinois Road.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) The founder of home improvement store chain Menards and Tom Kelley of Kelley Automotive Group together announced “major business expansions” Wednesday.

In a press conference Wednesday at the Menards store at 6310 Illinois Road, Menards founder and owner John Menard and Kelley Automotive president Tom Kelley joined Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry to announce plans for Menards to overhaul its customer pickup and for Kelley to relocate a batch of its dealerships to establish a new auto mall.

Menards will invest $5-$6 million to build a new mezzanine level at its Illinois Road and Meijer Drive locations that will feature additional products and improve the shopping experience for customers.

Kelley, meanwhile, announced a $45-$50 million venture to move five of his Kelley Automotive Group dealerships out of the 14/69 Auto Mall along Avenue of Autos about a half-mile west to land that sits between the Menards store and Interstate 69. Tom Kelley Buick GMC, Tom Kelley Cadillac, Tom Kelley Volvo and BMW of Fort Wayne, along with the Superstore, would all move to the uninhabited swath of land.

To assist with that, Menards plans to establish new entrances and additional access points to both Menards and the new Kelley Auto Mall, it announced.

Menard and Kelley said Wednesday the investments are expected to generate an incremental $45-$50 million of tax revenue for the city of Fort Wayne.

Henry called the plans exciting for the city.

“I continue to be encouraged by the positive momentum and excitement we’re experiencing in Fort Wayne,” said Henry. “I appreciate the commitment to our community being demonstrated by John Menard and Tom Kelley. This substantial private investment assists us in our ongoing efforts to be a destination city to live, work and play.”

It’s not known when the new development will begin or open.

It’s also not clear how Kelley’s departure from the Avenue of Autos will impact the 14/69 Auto Mall, as it anchors the strip with four dealerships and its “supercenter” that features a car wash and a body shop. Bob Rohrman-owned Fort Wayne Kia, Lexus of Fort Wayne and Fort Wayne Toyota would remain along with 14/69 Auto Body and NAPA Auto Parts.