Corona, CA: Mazda Rolling Into Corona

The Cardinale Automotive Group could soon own a third dealership in the Corona Auto Center if the California city approves plans for a new Mazda facility.

The Seaside-based company, which already operates Volkswagen and Hyundai dealerships in the Corona center, plans to construct an 18,000-square-foot Mazda-branded dealership on vacant land between Volkswagen and a Nissan dealership.

Joe Cardinale, president and majority owner of the Cardinale Auto Group, said he hopes to break ground sometime in the next month, pending approval from city officials.

The dealership would be the fourth Mazda dealership for Cardinale, which already owns franchises in Mesa, Ariz., and Salinas and has a third on the way in Peoria, Ariz. The company has about a dozen auto dealerships in all.

Corona Mayor Eugene Montanez said the city's infrastructure committee has already approved plans for the site, and only routine permits are needed.

It's "exciting to be able to have a new car dealership wanting to establish in the city right now," he said. "It just really demonstrates that the economy is definitely turning around."

New vehicle registrations increased 17.7 percent in the first quarter in California, outpacing U.S. sales, which increased 13.3 percent from the prior year, according to a report from the California New Car Dealers Association.

In Corona, auto and transportation businesses are responsible for about 10 percent of sales tax receipts, according to fourth-quarter data from the city's finance department.

Montanez said the Corona Auto Center did not suffer the kind of dealership exodus that some other centers did when the recession hit. In addition to Volkswagen, Nissan and Hyundai, Mazda will join Toyota/Scion and Honda dealerships nearby, along with used car, aftermarket and other auto businesses.

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