On a sunny afternoon in mid-July a small group of car enthusiasts, city officials, civil engineers and friends of Bruno Silikowski gathered to take part in a groundbreaking ceremony for AutoMotorPlex, a unique concept of car condominiums scheduled to open later this fall.
I had a chance to sit down with Silikowski, the owner and brain child, a few days after the event. Sitting in a booth at Robert’s, Bruno was calm and soft spoken, delivering a steady balance of confident candor and deliberate care in his word choice and descriptions.
Perseverance in the Face of Recession
“I first started looking at the concept around 2005-2006. I actually considered this area as the market is chock full of auto enthusiasts that would enjoy the type of environment we create. In the southwest metro at the end of 2007, the height of a hot financial market, we opened our doors right on January 1, 2008. Despite the timing, it did quite well – not only did we survive it, but created something bigger and cooler for the community than we all expected.
“Much of what we do is about enjoying a lifestyle. The AutoMotorPlex is kind of like a country club, but actually more like an urban cabin for vehicle enthusiasts. A place that hosts many car centric events that brings both enthusiasts and families together. Most of our folks appreciate vehicles and enjoy hanging around their collection of arts. Some refer to their cars as ‘art on two and four wheels’. What you find are people who bring their families, friends or their colleagues making it a great place to conduct business meetings or entertain guests who are in town. We also open it up to the general public with events on a limited monthly basis.”
Many of their organized events center around charity fundraisers and giving back to the community through their public events. For example, this is the 7th year they will be putting on an Oktoberfest all-German car show which serves as a fundraiser for Gillette Children’s Hospital. They recently completed a collaborative fundraiser with 3M for United Way. This particular event raised two and a half times more money than it had in prior years at other venues.
A Community Gathering Place
“The goal,” Bruno tells me, “is to have regular occurring events that people can bring their families and friends to.” We are focusing on quality, not quantity in Medina. We will limit the size of the events and focus more on the experience to create a fun environment to give as much back to the community as possible.
We find this is a place for family bonding during events, where you will not just see kids, but kids in strollers with moms or dads pushing them. There will be grandparents – some folks you see in a walker reminiscing about the old days saying, ‘yes I used to have one of those cars.’”
Bruno moves in closer, flashing a brief smile before telling me, “One of the coolest stories I like to tell is in Chanhassen we have three generations of one family that all share a garage. The grandfather, the dad and the kids. Gatherings range from kid’s birthday parties celebrated with pizza delivery to well-orchestrated, catered events. One event we do within the campus, usually on a quarterly basis, we refer to as a ‘Cave Crawl.’ But the reality is, it’s a progressive dinner between the garages. A group of 60 – 100 members participate and we all move from one garage to another for different meal courses. It’s a chance to socialize and get to know one another.”
Root of Inspiration
What inspired this concept in the first place? Your love of cars? “That’s where it starts. There are people who really enjoy certain things in life such as golf, where much of one’s recreational life is based on their travels to golf courses, what they wear, what they buy, how they socialize. It all centers around something really unique. You can pick a particular hobby and people are born with the natural inclination or interest in it, such as flying airplanes or knitting. That’s what I believe at least. Take my son, for example. His first few steps into the garage he walked up to the front wheel of the car – which was bigger than him – grabbed it, looked up and made ‘ooooh’ sound. And I just knew, ‘that was my child.’ Yet my parents could never understand why I wanted my first car to have a stick shift. That was back when automatic cars first came out, everyone thought they were the best thing that happened to the automobile. Yet I completely disagreed, and my parents didn’t understand why.”
However, the root of inspiration came to him after coming home one day and finally figuring out where all the dents on the side of his sports car were coming from. The kids were using the car as a kickstand for their bicycles. Bruno decided he needed to find a space to store his vehicles off-site. His search led him to create the AutoMotorPlex concept. A group of likeminded enthusiasts who share a passion in powersports and want the rest of the community to enjoy it with them. Some of the garage condos in his first facility are decked out with pool tables, custom bars, home theaters and/or a golf simulator. There is something magical about slipping away from your house and not having those immediate ‘to do’s’ that are constantly staring at you.”
Apparently, others agree with Bruno as the units in the first complex are highly desirable, having increased dramatically since buying them. “The success of the place is we not only talk about design and experience for people but we actually activate the lifestyle.”
Benefits to the City, Residents and Businesses Alike
As a local resident and business owner, I see major benefits to having the AutoMotorPlex in Medina. For example, at full capacity (about 160 units), the AutoMotorPlex is projected to create an approximate 40-60 million dollar tax base. While this number alone is impressive, it’s even more so considering the AutoMotorPlex won’t be utilizing our public school system nor using much in terms of water, sewer or emergency services. Any necessary, extra public safety services for event days will be paid for by private funds. Yes, there will be additional noise and traffic on the handful of days for the larger events, but in the end, I believe the AutoMotorPlex will be a welcome addition to our city. Overall, it will offer a potential boon for residential recreation, the city’s bottom line, as well as for the local businesses which will inevitably see an uptick in business – not only on event days, but throughout the year. The AutoMotorPlex will draw everyone from high net worth individuals to young families of car enthusiasts from around the western metro, increasing exposure to our locally owned restaurants, businesses and shops whenever they come visit this small village showcasing nearly a century of motor vehicle design and innovation for all to enjoy. I look forward to seeing many of you at the AutoMotorPlex’s first public event. Stay tuned to LocalTiesMedia.com for details.
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