Steel Dreamz has been attracting more onlookers than ever to its classic car lot at Gilbert Road and Vaughn Avenue.
But one Town Council member is questioning whether to renew the company’s use permit, out of fear it will create a precedent for more car dealers in Gilbert’s downtown Heritage District.
Councilman Steve Urie told the Town Council earlier this week that if the permit — which expired a year ago — is renewed for another three years, it should be written in a way that prevents other car dealers from coming downtown.
“I do have empathy for Steel Dreamz,” Urie said. “My concern is once we approve this and it becomes part of the Heritage District zoning, then others will come in. Frankly, I don’t know if car sales, whether antiques or else — whether this is a proper location for a car dealership.”
But Steel Dreamz owner Scott Cawley said his lot is not a car dealership, but practically a museum that draws outsiders to the town to spend money and generate sales tax revenue.
Many dads bring their kids to see the kind of cars they grew up with, from the 1930s to 1970s, he said. Since Oregano’s Pizza Bistro opened earlier this year, interest in the classic cars has increased, drawing more people, according to Steel Dreamz.
“We bring 200 to 300 people a week to that store, from all over the Valley,” Cawley said. “They all go eat at the restaurants. We’re a big draw. We draw people from Scottsdale, people who have never been to downtown Gilbert.”
Other council members said they wanted to see Steel Dreamz stay. However, the council agreed to hold off on approving the permit at a Town Council meeting Tuesday to investigate language on the new permit that would ensure no used car lots can use it in their favor in the future.
“Some of us remember a point in time where Country Club Drive was littered with classic car garages,” said Councilwoman Joan Krueger, who called herself a “classic car fanatic.”
“Some were beautiful and displayed gorgeous cars, and some of them did not,” she said. “But Steel Dreamz has been a great resident in our downtown area.”
A closed meeting to discuss legal issues regarding whether and how to renew the permit to ensure Steel Dreamz is the only car lot in downtown Gilbert is planned for Dec. 19.