It may sound like a bit of old news, but Bedford gave its blessing Tuesday to a car wash on busy Route 117 in Bedford Hills.
If it seems like Route 117 has had a car wash for years at that abrupt transition in Bedford Hills from residential to commercial thoroughfare, well, it has. But that was called Splash, which will be moving across the street, to the old Carvel site near Valerio Court.
And Splash’s landlord will open another branch of the family business—Russell Speeder’s Car Wash—on the soon-to-be-abandoned site, 527 North Bedford Road.
Is Bedford Hills big enough for two car washes?
“I don’t think so,” said Michael Shullman, whose family operates six Speeder’s outlets in Connecticut as well as another five nationally. “Would you open two Chevy dealerships in the same town? But it’s a free market.” He said the company plans to “improve the site, renovate and update the exterior facade and the interior equipment.”
But Chris Fisher, who co-founded Splash Car Wash 30 years ago along with Mark Curtis, the company’s CEO, said he believed their business was strong enough to make it with new competition in town. “People may try out the new place, but we think we have a good formula and provide exceptional customer service. We have a good customer base and have been good to the community.” Fisher said they had tried to renew their lease with no success, and rather than give up the business to a competitor, they decided to move.
Shullman appeared before the planning board in April. He and architect Erik Kaeyer of KG&D in Mount Kisco, made an initial presentation April 12 and went home Tuesday night with the approval, a relatively speedy journey through Bedford’s regulatory process.
By contrast, Splash went before the same panel last July with ambitious plans for redeveloping the Carvel site. Company officials have since appeared a number of times before both the planning and zoning boards without receiving a final approval. Splash co-founder Fisher has said he does not expect the new location to be ready before year’s end.
While asking Speeder’s to study a handful of possible improvements to the site plan, planning board members were generally enthusiastic about the forthcoming Bedford Road changes. “It’s so dramatically an improvement over what is there now,” said John Sullivan.
“I agree,” said William Colavita. “This is a big improvement.”
Patch editor Lisa Buchman contributed to this report.