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Baker Motor Co. breaks ground on new $10M Mercedes-Benz dealership in Summerville

Three years after paying $5.4 million for 13 acres along Interstate 26, car dealer Tommy Baker is ready to expand his stable of luxury automobiles to Summerville on a site that will include the nation's first new construction Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Van dealership.

Site work has begun on Baker Motor Co.'s next venture at 425 Sigma Drive, according to a notice filed with Berkeley County by Hill Construction Services of Charleston. Construction is expected to be completed in November 2020, Baker said.

"This time next year we will turn the key," he said.

The $10 million facility will house a 28,600-square-foot, one-story showroom and sales office called Mercedes-Benz Van Center along I-26 and a 1,100-square-foot sales office in a separate building surrounded by The Baker Collection, a group of 12 luxury brands that are used as loaner cars and will have a few miles on them.

"All of them will be the current model year," Baker said.

Each section in the pre-driven lot will have its own name such as Mercedes-Benz Lane or Land Rover Boulevard. The Baker Collection will be along Sigma Drive.

Baker said the property will be fully landscaped with an entrance akin to Azalea Drive, the road leading into Augusta National in Georgia.

"I'm spending more money on landscaping than I ever have," Baker said.

As part of the design, which includes walking and biking trails next to the interstate, the dealership will include a kiddie land play area, possibly with a mini Sprinter van for children to play on.

The site will include a car wash for all Baker Motor Co. clients, an eight-car showroom, consultation desks, conference room and lounges. The interior design is fully open with screens separating different sections.

"Nothing is behind the scenes," said Billy Bishop of Glick Boehm Architecture, who designed the building with colleague Shawn Mellin.

"We try to make our buildings where people in the community can use them for events," Baker said.

The property, in the developing 4,500-acre Nexton community, is where outdoor retailer Cabela's previously planned to build before abandoning the site in 2016.

The dealership will be accessible via Sigma Drive off U.S. Highway 17-A or off the recently completed Nexton Parkway, both off I-26.

"It will be unlike anything that's ever been done in Berkeley and Dorchester counties," Baker said.

The privately held Baker Motor Co. operates manufacturer-authorized new car and truck dealerships for 14 brands including Rolls-Royce, BMW, Maserati, Alfa Romeo, Porsche, Land Rover, Jaguar, Smart Car, Mercedes-Benz, Sprinter, Infiniti, Buick, GMC and Cadillac.

Baker also owns another parcel just west of the tract being developed.

An affiliate of Baker Motor Co. paid $4.8 million in October 2018 for about 15 acres at 451 Sigma Drive, also facing I-26. A parcel with wetlands separates the two sites. Baker hasn't decided what to do with the 15-acre tract, but he believes it would be ideal for a hotel.

Lights out

Taziki's Mediterranean Cafe closed Sunday at 306 King St. in downtown Charleston. The Birminghan, Ala.-based chain has one other local restaurant at 320 W. Coleman Blvd. in Mount Pleasant.

Pre-Turkey Day debut

James Island residents will have a new supermarket before Thanksgiving to shop for all their holiday fixings.

Florida-based Publix announced Monday its fourth new Charleston-area supermarket or specialty store this year will open in the new Riverland Market Shopping Center at 1411 Folly Road at 7 a.m. Nov. 20.

The redeveloped location once served as a boat-storage site. New outparcel buildings are under construction as part of the reworked site as well.

Beauty spot

A French skincare company will celebrate the opening of its second Charleston-area shop this week.

Guinot Institut Pariscq is now open at 303 Front St. near Summerville and will host a grand opening at 4 p.m. Friday with salon tours, live music, sips and snacks, giveaways and product specials. The shop also will demonstrate skincare treatments.

It offers 110 shop-brand products and three treatment rooms. Therapists offer one-on-one consultations. Services include facials, anti-aging facials, slimming and body contouring, anti-cellulite treatments, waxing, eye contouring, and eyelash and eyebrow services.

Former medical aesthetician and professional makeup artist Amanda Morris is the salon manager. She is being joined by Meagan Fender, who brings medical aesthetician experience from plastic surgeon offices and med spas. Jean Baudrand is the owner and operator.

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Baudrand opened the first U.S. location in Mount Pleasant in November 2018. A third Charleston-area location is expected to open within the next year.

Shopping cycle

In-home bike and treadmill provider Peloton will open at 10 a.m. Thursday in 1,929 square feet at 1239 Belk Drive next to Reeds Jewelers in Mount Pleasant Towne Centre.

The company's first South Carolina location will host a health and wellness panel 6-8:30 p.m. Nov. 14, featuring cycling instructor Alex Touissant and tread instructor Selena Samuela. It's free and open to the public.

Test classes can be booked at

In the bag

Also opening this week at Towne Centre is handbag company Beau & Ro by Sara Rossi. The 951-square-foot shop can be found at 1242 Belk Drive, in the former site of Traveling Chic Boutique.

Rossi was the co-founder of The Skinny Dip stores in downtown Charleston, Palm Beach and Nantucket.

Toy time

With Halloween behind everyone, the focus now turns to the upcoming holidays.

To help launch them is the ninth annual toy fest called Elfstravaganza by Charleston-based Wonder Works toy stores. It returns 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday off Long Point Road in Belle Hall Shopping Center in Mount Pleasant.

The free family event will include face painting, writing letters to Santa, decorating cookies, arts and crafts, sweet treats and a free toy for every child. Carpool karaoke has been added this year. Santa and Mrs. Claus also will be there. Look for toy testing, as well, from both national companies and local inventors.

The event will host three local charities: Hugs for Harper and Lonon Foundation, both related to help for cancer victims and research; and Beyond Basic, which assists adults with intellectual disabilities to become functioning members of society.

This year's event has been moved to a larger space behind PetSmart in the shopping center off Egypt Road. Parking is available at Seacoast Church.

Bring your blade

With Turkey Day just a few weeks away, it's time to sharpen those carving knives. The Coastal Cupboard will host its knife-sharpening event Friday through Sunday at 644-J Long Point Road in Belle Hall Shopping Center in Mount Pleasant.

Straight-edged knives only are sharpened for $1 each, and all of the proceeds go to Charleston Basket Brigade to feed local families in need at Thanksgiving.

The event, hoping to raise $105,000 to feed 3,500 Charleston-area families, runs 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday and Saturday and noon-4 p.m. Sunday.

On the way

Another Parker's Kitchen convenience store will soon open in the Lowcountry.

The new shop is set to welcome customers tentatively on Friday at 774 N. Jeffries Blvd. in Walterboro. Five locations are already open in the Charleston area, including two in Moncks Corner, one in Summerville, one in Cane Bay and another in Goose Creek.

Four others are planned in the area as part of a $50 million investment for the Savannah-based company.

Changing hands

A Moncks Corner recreational vehicle shop is now under new ownership and will change names.

New Hampshire-based Campers Inn RV recently acquired Palmetto RV & Marine at 1511 U.S. Highway 52. The dealership will remain open as it transitions to the new family-owned operation.

“We are excited to continue the legacy of outstanding service the Arnau family and team have established within the Charleston RV community,” said Jeff Hirsch, owner and president of Campers Inn RV.

Mike Arnau led the previous operation, founded more than 20 years ago.

"I truly believe that the team at Campers Inn RV are honest campers who not only care about your family, but also your family vacation,” Arnau said.

Campers Inn RV now operates two locations in South Carolina, including Myrtle Beach. It has 27 locations in the eastern half of the U.S. and North Dakota.

Do you know of a retail business that is opening, closing or expanding? Reach Warren L. Wise at 843-937-5524. Follow him on Twitter @warrenlancewise.

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