New dealership opens just in time for Chisholm Trail Parkway

05/11/2014 12:00 AM

05/10/2014 5:42 PM

If drivers on the just-opened Chisholm Trail Parkway want to find a new car to make the trip, they won’t have to go far to start shopping.

The area’s newest auto dealership, Kris Brown Chevrolet Buick GMC, is near the southern end of the new toll road in Cleburne. And that’s no coincidence, says Brown, who opened the business a week ago.

She expects the location on the new highway to help sell 1,100 new vehicles annually, enough to make it “a fairly good-sized dealership” with 62,000 square feet of facilities on 21 acres.

Brown got into the car business in 2001 when she joined her father at Mike Brown Auto Group in Granbury. As an only child, “I wanted to help him grow his business. I never left. I loved it,” she says.

She also has a strong partner in Tom Durant, owner of Classic Chevrolet in Grapevine, the nation’s largest Chevy dealership eight years running.

The dealership’s address is 822 Walter Holliday Blvd., on U.S. 67 at the Woodard Avenue exit in Cleburne.

Branson’s Love letter

Richard Branson turned up the charm offensive in his efforts to win two Love Field gates for Virgin America. He even poured out his desires into an online video love letter to the Dallas airport.

“From the moment I knew I had a shot at you, you’re all that I could think of,” Branson says in a voice-over as he sits at a desk and soft jazz music plays in the background. “Others would keep you all to themselves. I invite competition for your affections.”

The one-minute video, posted to Virgin America’s website, was part of a public campaign to get the city of Dallas to approve Virgin America’s agreement with American Airlines to take over the lease on the two gates at Love Field. Southwest Airlines and Delta Air Lines also want the gates.

The video was shot last week during Branson’s brief visit to Dallas, when he staged a rally for Virgin America supporters at a Dallas bar. It shows Branson sitting at a desk in a hotel room, thinking pensively as he writes the letter and looking provocatively into the camera.

“My virile young planes are yearning for your runways,” Branson says as he touches a model of a Virgin America plane. “It’s time to let our love take flight no matter how hard they try to keep us apart.”

It remains to be seen whether the campaign worked. As of Friday, the Dallas city manager had not decided which airline will get the gates.

Bell moves into new administration building

Workers at Bell Helicopter have been packing and unpacking in recent weeks as the company opens a new administration building at its east Fort Worth headquarters.

About 1,200 employees are moving to the Fort Worth campus from five sites including Alliance Airport as the helicopter manufacturer consolidates its area operations into a renovated campus, the company said.

Spokesman Brian Bianco said that about 95 percent of those workers have moved and that the relocations should be completed early next month. He was busy packing himself Friday, as his department prepared for its new digs.

The 200,000-square-foot office building, built on Texas 10, is the centerpiece of a $230 million upgrade to Bell’s aging complex. The company said the consolidation will save $20 million a year — and eliminate time lost sitting in traffic. Workers traveling on I-35W coming from Alliance to Fort Worth for a 2 p.m. meeting have had to leave as early as 12:30, Bianco said.

As some workers arrive at headquarters, others are departing. Bell announced 325 more layoffs last week as the company downsizes in the face of declining defense spending and V-22 orders. More than 700 jobs have been trimmed since early last year.

Bell says it has about 5,000 employees at its Fort Worth campus and 6,200 in Tarrant County. Under a tax-incentive deal with the city valued at $13.5 million over 10 years, Bell has committed to keep 4,500 employees in Fort Worth through 2020, 4,100 workers in 2021 and 2022, and 3,900 from 2023 through 2028.

Steve Kaskovich

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