Lake Norman & Mooresville

Developers plan a country club for cars

The Automotive Country Club plans to open its doors in several months so car enthusiasts will have a place to regularly pursue their passion among like-minded individuals, said co-founder Ed Bongart, 58.

The $15 million club, which will be built on a 27-acre lot at 111736 Sam Furr Road, Huntersville, will feature 10 20,000-square-foot buildings, each of which will hold 18 garage condos.

In addition to storing cars, these condos can also be outfitted to include finished living areas, kitchens and baths.

Condos will range from 576 to 1,920 square feet, with prices ranging from $59,900 to $199,900.

Residents will be allowed to stay in their condos for 30 days out of the year, although they won't be able to live there full-time.

Bongart said he expects some condo owners to stay overnight during big race weekends or when they want to have a night out and watch a game.

Member cars will be protected by three levels of security: a perimeter gate, cameras throughout the campus and cameras within individual condos.

There will also be a 4,000-square-foot clubhouse for regularly scheduled, members-only events.

"It's a place where auto enthusiasts can enjoy and explore passion for automotive vehicles," said Bongart.

Bongart said he got the idea for the Auto Country Club from a friend while he was living in Florida. But the economy tanked soon after that and he had to shelve the plan.

Then, a couple of years ago, one of Bongart's friend sent him a YouTube video of a man in Minneapolis who had created the same type of country club.

Living in Charlotte by then, Bongart joined forces with friend and fellow Myers Park resident Paul Lange.

"I had never heard of such a thing, and I've been a car guy all my life," said Lange, 59, a retiree from the trucking industry. "What really sold me on the concept was seeing that a guy was doing it in Minnesota. If he could do it there, we could do it here. This is a red-hot market for car nuts."

The idea for an auto country club is so novel that the town of Huntersville will have to adjust its corporate business zoning district to accommodate the business.

The town board of commissioners is expected to decide on that text amendment at its April 2 meeting.

Expecting a favorable outcome at that meeting, the co-founders will hold an open house on March 17 at their sales center.

"This will be a great opportunity for the public to see what we're all about," said Bongart.

After the initial open house, the sales office will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., six days a week. Residents can also secure a spot online by using the site's PayPal feature.

The Auto-Country Club is taking refundable reservations of $5,000 before it gets final approval from the town.

The club will be open to all types of car enthusiasts, said Lange.

For instance, while Lange considers himself a 1960s muscle car guy, Bongart calls himself a late-model Porsche guy.

Nonmembers will have access to the private club during the planned 24 public events each year, Lange said.

Car enthusiast Dallas Jamison said he's made a reservation for a unit at the Auto Country Club.

"It's so unique. I think it's going to be cool to hang around with a lot of people with the same kinds of interests. You'll get to learn a lot of things," said the 59-year-old Lake Wylie resident.

That social interaction is what the Auto Country Club is about, said Lange.

"We're really stressing the country club aspect of this club because that's what separates us from dead storage," said Lange. "This is an opportunity for auto enthusiasts to come out and socialize with like-minded individuals."