It looks like Columbus’ new Chevrolet, Cadillac and Saab dealership will be opening on Thursday, a day ahead of schedule.
Emanuel Jones, who purchased the former Bill Heard stores out of bankruptcy, said he plans to finalize the deal Thursday and be selling and servicing vehicles before the day is over.
The stores will open under the names Legacy Chevrolet of Columbus and Legacy Cadillac/Saab of Columbus.
Jones, who owns dealerships in McDonough, Ga., and North Carolina, offered about $25 million for the local dealerships, Manchester Expressway property, furnishings and parts.
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The deal was approved last week by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Northern Division of Alabama.
“I will officially close with General Motors about 10:30,” Jones said. “Once we get all the documents signed, we will be open.”
Jones said he plans to sign paperwork with Bill Heard Enterprises and Columbus Bank & Trust on Wednesday.
Bill Heard Enterprises filed for federal bankruptcy protection in September after closing 14 stores across the country. The company listed more than $260 million in debt.
The Columbus store has been closed since Sept. 24.
The Columbus Bill Heard property and automobile parts were controlled by CB&T, which placed a lien on the land and parts.
Jones has been working to reopen the store since the sale was approved by the court a week ago.
He held a job fair at the dealership on Wednesday. More than 800 people showed up looking for employment. The Legacy dealerships have hired about 70 employees, Jones said.
“We have all the key positions filled to open,” he said.
About 30-40 salespeople will attend a training seminar on Wednesday and Thursday.
“We will pull out some of the more experienced people and put them on the floor Thursday afternoon,” Jones said.
There were about 280 people working in the Bill Heard Columbus dealership when it closed. Legacy has hired a mix of former Heard employees and people with no automotive sales experience, Jones said.
As the business starts, Jones anticipates hiring more people.
“We expect an avalanche from the public and we will be putting people on daily,” he said.