Tesla showroom coming to Gardens Mall, but first… some ground rules

1:18 p.m Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017 Local
Guests at the Palm Beach North Chamber of Commerce’s March breakfast on Innovations in Transportation & Smart Cities examined and took rides in Teslas. (Sarah Peters/The Palm Beach Post)

Tesla’s plans to open a showroom at The Gardens Mall are advancing at full speed.

PALM BEACH GARDENS READERS: Be in the know with our weekly Gardens newsletter. Sign up now!

Similar to how Amazon revolutionized internet shopping, Tesla is re-imagining how people buy cars, said Jennifer Morton, a planner working for the mall and the Elon Musk-founded company.

RELATED: Time for a makeover? The Gardens Mall looks to Apple, Tesla

“Tesla set the gold standard in luxury automobiles as far as the electric vehicle goes,” she told the Palm Beach Gardens City Council on Thursday. “What you might not know is that Tesla is also a trendsetter in how the consumer purchases the automobile.”

RELATED: Race for rollout of self-driving cars in Florida is on

Tesla strategically chooses shopping districts to place its high-end showrooms, she said. The company already has space at the Town Center at Boca Raton and Aventura Mall in Miami, and representatives are looking at Coral Gables.

The stores are usually about 4,000 square feet. For Tesla to move in next to Saks Fifth Avenue at The Gardens Mall, the company first needs the city to change its development regulations to include a category for an electric car showroom.

The Palm Beach Gardens City Council took a first vote on the changes to the land development regulations Thursday and will likely take a second and final vote next month.

Among the proposed restrictions:

- Display cars cannot be elevated in any way.

- No test drives are allowed on residential roads.

- No more than eight vehicles at the site can be used for test drives at any given time.

- No more than four vehicles can be on display in the showroom space, which can’t be more than 4,000 square feet.

- Only electric vehicles can be displayed in the showrooms. Hybrids, boats, recreational vehicles, trailers, motorcycles, mobile homes and buses are not allowed.

- No maintenance is allowed on-site.

“We’ve created a separate category for electric automobile showrooms that prevents the proliferation of car dealerships in the city,” Morton said.

Neither the PGA Corridor Association nor the Palm Beach North Chamber of Commerce had any objections, Palm Beach Gardens senior planner Erin Kelley said. The Corridor Association strongly supports it and would like the city staff to consider allowing the electric car showrooms in other zoning, she said.

The City Council liked the idea. Councilman Matt Lane called it “very forward-thinking.”

“It’s going to enhance the city. It’s going to be great to have the charging stations around the mall,” he said.

Any company, not just Tesla, can submit an application for an electric car showroom, said Natalie Crowley, Palm Beach Gardens director of planning and zoning.

Tesla will need separate approval from the council for the space at the mall. Officials will publicly hear those plans for the first time at the 7 p.m. Dec. 7 council meeting.

View full experience