Arnold Palmer Motors near Latrobe will close Dec. 1 after 36 years
Arnold Palmer Motors, a General Motors Corp. dealership the late, legendary golfer opened in 1981 along Route 30 in Unity, will close Dec. 1, officials with Arnold Palmer Enterprises said Wednesday.
“We’re really sorry. The economics were not there anymore,” said Glen Blackburn, vice president of Arnold Palmer Enterprises and treasurer of the dealership.
Its 40 employees were informed Monday of the plans, Blackburn said.
The business was hurt by General Motors’ restructuring of its network when it stopped production of the Oldsmobile model in 2004 and followed that by eliminating the Pontiac brand in 2010. That left Arnold Palmer Motors with the Buick and Cadillac nameplates, which are more costly, Blackburn said.
Another impact on the business was strong competition among dealerships along the Route 30 corridor.
Until Palmer’s death in September 2016, his various businesses were evaluated on a regular basis, said Bob Demangone, a longtime assistant to the golfer and philanthropist. Some of the businesses “were kept more out of sentiment,” he said.
Arnold Palmer Enterprises is working out an agreement on the dealership closure, Blackburn said. GM will take the remaining new cars, while used vehicles will be sold.
James Cain, a GM spokesman in Detroit, could not be reached for comment.
“Losing a business like that, it’s definitely going to hurt the area,” Unity Supervisor Mike O’Barto said, noting Palmer’s importance to the community. The golfer grew up in nearby Youngstown. “I know that they employed a lot of people in the area — not only in Unity Township, but Westmoreland County.”
O’Barto pointed out the dealership sits at a commercially desirable location near the Wildcat Commons Plaza and said he’s hopeful another business will open there.
Blackburn said at this time there are no plans for the property. Arnold Palmer Motors and A.P.M. Realty own 11.5 acres along Route 30.
Ralph Scalise, owner of Scalise Real Estate Co. of Latrobe, described it as a prime piece of real estate along a heavily traveled highway on a corner where there is a traffic signal. The site also is adjacent to the Mountain Laurel Plaza.
“When you’ve got that, you’ve got value,” Scalise said.
The property would be good for a gas station, convenience store, a retail outlet, a fast-food eatery or a restaurant, Scalise said.
“That will be a sought-after piece of property,” he said.
Staff writer Jeff Himler contributed to this report. Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-5252 or [email protected].