College Park denies auto club’s request to sell cars

College Park’s city councilmembers butted heads in a decision that ultimately did not favor a posh automobile membership club.

During a recent meeting, Councilmembers Ambrose Clay and Charles Phillips, Sr., opposed the request of Prestige Luxury Rentals, to allow car sales for its members, while Councilmembers Joe Carn and Tracey Wyatt favored the request of the auto club.

Mayor Jack Longino broke the tie vote by opposing the request of the business.

Prestige Luxury Rentals in College Park “wanted to change the text of the ordinance ... [to] allow 20 percent of gross revenue to limited sales of fleet vehicles to auto club members,” said Bill Johnston, of Strategic Planning, LLC.

Johnston serves as College Park’s city planner. He said the city prohibits used car sales within its downtown business district, and the auto club wanted to amend those regulations in the city’s code of ordinances.

Councilmembers, who voted against the request, seemed to be influenced by concerned citizens during the public hearing. One of those citizens was Jon Ritt, who shared with the council his opinion of the business and what he said he has witnessed.

He advised the council that Prestige Luxury Rentals allegedly has another location, between 14th Street and 10th Street, in Atlanta, which is unsightly. “It has become dirty, abandoned, scattered group of cars, not a healthy location,” he told the council.

According to Prestige’s web site –– prestigeluxuryrentals.com –– the business has several locations in Atlanta. However, the company only provides the address of its College Park location –– 3891 Main Street.

Ritt said the company applied to be an exotic rental car membership business in Downtown College Park, and it should maintain its status as such. “We don’t want to turn to what the area used to be,” he said.

Mayor Longino said he was disappointed the owner of Prestige Luxury Rentals was not present at the council meeting. “This [public hearing] has opened Pandora’s box,” he said.

Councilman Joe Carn said there is nothing wrong with allowing the luxury rental business to sell its vehicles, because the city will ensure that the location stays in “tip-top shape.”

“They had an operation in Buckhead, and it looked fine,” he said.

“I am against it, now,” responded Councilman Phillips. He said what the company is asking for is not what College Park envisioned its downtown area to be years ago, when the Main Street program was established.

Phillips said if the council votes in favor of the request, it will steer Downtown College Park into the wrong direction. “The problem is we’ve worked our butts off to ... do everything we can to upgrade it.”

Councilman Clay said he is taken aback, because, originally, the city was told this business was going to be a posh automobile rental club, and now the business wants to change that. “I don’t have a problem with bringing [in] high rollers, [but] that’s not what we are talking about,” said Clay. “We are talking about how we are driving down a steeping slope.”

Councilman Wyatt thanked the citizens, who shared their concerns and visited Prestige Luxury Rental’s other location, but he doesn’t think it’s risky to sell high-end vehicles on Main Street.

“I don’t think it’s risky,” Mayor Longino responded. “I think it’s opening Pandora’s box.”