EVANSVILLE, INDIANA — Shiny new cars and checkered flags line up outside a sleek new building, with the snip of scissors inside welcoming the D-Patrick Ford Lincoln dealership to its new home at the corner of US-41 and Walnut in Evansville.
“We have a great new gateway into downtown,” Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke said.
D-Patrick Ford Lincoln moved this year from its downtown home.
“It’s like trading up to a new car,” D-Patrick Ford Lincoln President Mike O’Daniel said. “There’s a little trade difference, but that’s all right. We got something a little nicer out of the program.”
O’Daniel said that while the new dealership is an upgrade, it was tough saying goodbye to a place they called home for 80 years.
“It was very difficult,” he said. “It was very heart-wrenching, but you know everything has to move on eventually.”
In place of the old dealership are the beginnings of what will soon be the new IU medical school campus, a trade-off O’Daniel and the city were more than willing to make.
“We thought about different places to put the medical school,” he said. “There were about three places that were really considered in the end, but it was apparent to me it really was the right location.”
“They had just made a significant investment in their dealership there and they were willing to go ahead and move for the betterment of the community,” Christy Gillenwater, the president of the Southwestern Indiana Chamber of Commerce, said.
For downtown businesses like Jaya’s Authentic Foods on 4th Street, the medical school could add life to a growing downtown Evansville.
“We’re hoping that we get a lot of the students to come over,” Chris Dodd, the manager at Jaya’s, said. “We’ve already expanded our Wi-Fi capabilities. We’re trying to expand the menu, maybe look at doing some delivery.”
While D-Patrick will still focus on selling cars, it has done more – selling Evansville a vision for a new downtown.
“The future of Evansville is extremely bright,” Gillenwater said. “I think we’ll look back 10 years from now and go, ‘Oh my goodness, look at the progress we’ve made.'”
“We’re very proud to be a part,” O’Daniel said.