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Boosting Local Business

By Joe Lowrey


According to the Virginia Beach Economic Development Department 70% of the resort city's total business growth comes from existing businesses.

When Checkered Flag announced it would spend about $2.5 million for improvements at their Virginia Beach Boulevard BMW Complex, the folks at VBED broke out in broad smiles. Businesses in three Hampton Roads cities also benefit from the project. The expansion demonstrates an ongoing commitment to Virginia Beach and the region by one of the resort city's oldest family owned businesses.

Based in Norfolk, Lyall Design Architects, Chesapeake's McKenzie Construction and Landworks Landscaping, headquartered in Virginia Beach, are collaborating on the project. Lyall worked closely with BMW's international design team in the planning stages. The first shovels hit the dirt at the Virginia Beach Boulevard site in November 2016. Final details should be in place in January. The building will also serve as the new corporate headquarters for Checkered Flag.

The Virginia Beach facility will incorporate design features based on extensive international research, BMW's long-time experience with the people who drive their cars and concepts centered on how to best serve 21st century drivers.

I talked with lead architect Randy Lyall about the project.

"We wanted to capture as much natural light as possible. The building is like a jewel box with a thin edge roof floating over a steel frame. It's wrapped with Low-E glass, energy efficient, sustainability minded material." A landscape installation with rocks, plants and flowing water buffers the building from the busy traffic on Virginia Beach Boulevard.

Upon entry, visitors step into a welcoming, immersive environment. Generous use of natural wood adds warmth to the, ultra-modern, functional décor. In customer consultation spaces prospective drivers engage with technology and knowledgeable client advisors to build their personal vehicle on large digital monitors. Buyers, individuals shopping in the BMW boutique and drivers picking up their vehicle after servicing have access to complimentary healthy snacks, teas, and coffee from an imported brewing system.

BMW's corporate research called for an indoor "Driving Gallery" with vehicles displayed on a floor resembling a road surface and positioned to simulate the adventure and feel of an actual driving experience.

When he made his initial commitment to imported cars in 1964 Ed Snyder was a pioneer. Fifty years later, three generations of the Snyder family are active in the day in, day out operations of the firm's 11 dealerships. Checkered Flag dealerships occupy 45 acres of land on Virginia Beach Boulevard and employ over 600 local people.


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