Approval for a speed shop in Union will now go before the board of aldermen after getting a recommendation from the planning and zoning commission.
After concerns were expressed by neighbors, the planning board added some conditions for Midwest Boost Works to open at 607 N. Christina Ave., where it plans to offer auto repair and parts sales. Owners Matthew Aston and Zach Frankenreiter are seeking a conditional use permit to open in the highway business district, which features other auto businesses and railroad tracks to the north and homes and Union park sites to the south and west.
The owners told the planning board they looked at numerous locations, starting in April. “We found this location and really, really liked the Union area,” Frankenreiter said at the September meeting. “And the shops really fit our plans for our business and what we wanted in the future.”
The business is more focused on after-market accessories and parts sales and installation than a typical garage, Aston said. “So our traffic through there is not very high,” he said. “We tend to have longer-term turnarounds on vehicles. It’s a lot more hometown compared to a typical auto repair shop.”
Frankenreiter declined to say how much they are investing in the speed shop launch. He did tell The Missourian Friday that the space won’t change too much from the previous owner, Master Auto Tech, with six bays and two lifts.
“There were a lot of benefits to it,” Frankenreiter said. “It was just the right size for us.”
The owners are both natives of the St. Louis area but have been working at a speed shop for four to five years in Springfield. They wanted to get closer to where they grew up, but they like being farther out from the city.
“There’s just a lot we like about Union,” Frankenreiter said.
A speed shop makes board Chairman Greg Bailey think of cars revving and racing down the street, he said at the meeting. “Are you guys going to be doing that kind of work where we need to be concerned about it?” he asked.
The owners replied they are doing their best to keep noises down and requested that their hours of operation be from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays and noon to 9 p.m. on weekends because they have customers who aren’t able to make it to the shop by 5 p.m.
City Administrator Jonathan Zimmermann suggested they establish a maximum decibel level at the alley where the area goes from being a business to a residential district.
Jack Wissmann, who lives nearby on West Park Avenue, said the building was originally intended to house motor homes and boats, not auto repair.
“It never did turn into that,” he said of the intended use. “It has no drain in the floor or in the back. ... It should have had a drain all the way along the back, and at the end of it is what they call a grease pit. ... That’s part of the OSHA law to have a drain in an automobile business.”
Wissmann said he checked, and every auto repair business in Union is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. He suggested they have a key drop for people who drop off vehicles after hours. “You don’t have to be there when they drop off the car,” he said. “I’ve been in that business 50-plus years.”
Matt Snodgrass, who previously owned the building, argued that a speed shop does not have the same impact as an auto repair shop.
Conditions added include the speed shop not having its decibel level exceed 60, the level of normal conversation, at the alley dividing it from the residential area after 6 p.m. They will be allowed to perform work from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and from noon to 6 p.m. on weekends. Vehicles will have to enter off Christina Avenue.
The owners are now selling parts but are waiting for full approval from the city before they start working on cars for customers, Frankenreiter said.