BY TOM DALTON
---- — SALEM — Since Stutz Volvo closed last year, Salem has had the unwanted distinction of being a city without a new-car dealership. That appears about to change.
North Shore Mazda, currently located in Danvers, has made tentative plans to move to the former Stutz location on Highland Avenue.
Representatives for the new owner, who bought the business from the Ira Motor Group in October, appeared before the Licensing Board this week seeking a new car dealer’s license. The hearing was continued to Dec. 17.
“We’re looking to bring a new-car dealership and jobs to a really great community,” said Joseph Shaker, the head of the Shaker Auto Group, which has a half-dozen dealerships in Massachusetts and Connecticut.
“If we’re awarded a license, we’ll move within 30 days to that location,” Shaker said.
North Shore Mazda signed a lease in August with the Stutz property owners that listed a tentative start date of January 2013. The company plans to have 200 new and used vehicles on the site, an official told the city board.
The arrival of North Shore Mazda would end a one-year drought for a city that once was lined with new-car dealers on Derby, Canal and other streets. Stutz had sold new cars for more than a half-century before closing that part of the business last fall.
Shaker said he has to move from Danvers because of Ira’s plans to expand on that Route 114 site. Salem, he said, seemed the perfect location with lots of its customers already coming from this area.
“I think Salem is a really nice spot ...” he said. “Route 107 (i.e., Highland Avenue) is a really good connection to Boston.”
Shaker Auto Group includes two other Mazda dealerships, in Wel lesley and South Yarmouth on Cape Cod. North Shore Mazda is its first business in this area.
Representatives of a preschool/day care near the Stutz property appeared at Monday’s Licensing Board meeting to oppose Shaker’s application for a new license. They asked the board to delay voting until a judge rules on a 2007 Land Court case involving a number of issues, including access to a roadway into the property.
The Licensing Board is conferring with City Solicitor Beth Rennard on the issue.
Tom Dalton can be reached at email@example.com.