Following a unanimous approval of the Planning and Zoning Board of Appeals last week, Tesla is going forward with its first gallery in Connecticut even though the direct sales bill to allow the automaker to sell its cars in the state is still pending.
The gallery will be located in Greenwich on Greenwich Avenue and will exist for educational purposes rather than as a retail location, but it has more to do with local zoning restrictions than the current prohibition of direct vehicle sales in the state of Connecticut.
Car dealerships are prohibited on Greenwich Avenue so Tesla had to agree to restrictions unrelated to the current bill that would allow Tesla, an automaker, to sell cars directly to consumers in the state.
The Greenwich Time reported on the process to get the store approved:
Despite unanimous approval from the appeals board, the decision did not come easily. The board shared the concerns of the commission, but was swayed after nearly two hours of discussion and a presentation from Tesla. The luxury car company won the board’s approval after agreeing to additional restrictions for the space.
Greenwich attorney Tom Heagney represented Tesla in its application, arguing that since automotive sales are prohibited by state law, the space will be more like the art galleries already allowed on Greenwich Avenue. The imposed restrictions limit parking at the back of the building to employees only, and prohibit test drives, electrical charging stations and vehicle sales, regardless of any future changes made to state franchise laws.
Tesla Northeast General Manager Jeremy Snider commented on the gallery concept:
“We created the Tesla gallery experience specifically in states where we’re not legally allowed to sell vehicles. We create Tesla galleries in order to educate the public. People have a lot of questions. Our mission is not to sell as many Teslas as we possibly can. It’s to accelerate the adoption of sustainable transport.”
While it seems like the gallery will go forward either way, the bill SB3 is currently awaiting discussion and a possible vote in the state Senate. If it passes, it would allow Tesla to open retail locations in Connecticut. The company says that each new store will create up to as many as 25 jobs and inject $8 to $10 million into the local economy. The sales from each store could create an additional $1.68 million in state tax revenue for the state.
Featured image: Tesla Showroom Concept plan and current store front of the location by Tyler Sizemore / Hearst Connecticut Media