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End of an era: Crossroads Auburn Auto Center building demolished

Building was a hub of auto sales activity in North Auburn
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Once a hub of auto-sales activity in North Auburn, the Crossroads Auburn Auto Center building  is being demolished.

The building, located south of the busy Bell Road-Highway 49 intersection, was a longtime magnet for prospective buyers looking for deals on Buicks, Pontiacs and GMC cars and trucks.

Dave Palaca, dealership owner from 1990 to 2005, said he drove by the property earlier this week and wasn’t aware plans were in progress to tear the structure down. He added, however, that he wasn’t surprised that it was being demolished.

The business was sold to a Merced dealer in 2005 and couldn’t survive the one-two punch of an economic downturn and the General Motors move to survive by downsizing its dealership numbers.

The structure and lot – once filled with shiny new cars and salespeople; a busy repair department in the back – was subsequently vacated.  

“To be honest, it’s turned into an eyesore,” Palaca said. “It broke my heart every time I drove by.”

The building and property is owned by John L. Sullivan, who couldn’t be reached Thursday for comment.

Ken Brizendine now works in sales at the building next door, which houses Auburn Honda Pre-Owned Vehicles. He’s been watching the demolition this week, with memories of working at Crossroads for 6½ years.  The dealership closed for good in 2007.

“We had a lot of fun working there,” Brizendine said. “It’s sad to see it go.”

The pre-owned vehicles dealership opened in the neighboring building in mid-December and there are no plans to demolish that building, Brizendine said.

Brizendine said that the Crossroads property stretches across about 4 acres and fronts the Home Depot store. Across from Home Depot, the county has land that Costco is considering as a building site.

“It (the old Crossroads property) is big enough for a Lowe’s,” Brizendine said.

The former Crossroads assistant sales manager, an auto salesman since 1979, said he could remember times when the dealership would sell 120 vehicles a month.

Now, splintered wood and the rumble of heavy equipment taking the building down compete with those memories.

Jim Crandall, a general sales manager at Crossroads during the good times, is now sales manager at the Infinity dealership in Roseville Auto Mall.

“They were tearing down my old office this week,” Crandall said. “I spent seven years there. It was a fun time and it’s sort of a sad day, with a chapter closing on Crossroads auto center.”