The Denison Planning and Zoning Commission recently removed another barrier for a new auto dealership specializing in vintage and performance vehicles when it granted the business initial approval for a conditional use permit. With this permit, Main Street Motors Denison will be allowed to both display and sell higher end cars and motor vehicles at its showroom at 510 W. Main St.


The Denison City Council is expected to vote at an upcoming meeting on final approval for the conditional use permit for Main Street Motors Denison.


Owner Jay Connelly said since opening for display in May, the storefront has already become popular with downtown visitors. Connelly is the owner of the Main Street Mall, which is next door to the new auto showroom.


“We like to say that we can’t keep our windows clean because of all the people looking inside to see the cars,” Connelly said.


The front doors of the showroom were open to guests early Wednesday afternoon and a small crowd gathered both inside and outside to see the more than a dozen vehicles currently on display. The collection ranged from a few sports cars from the 1980s, valued at about $6,000, to a baby-blue 1956 Jaguar with a price tag of just under $200,000.


“With these vehicles, we plan to go back as far as the 1920s,” Connelly said. “We don’t have any that old just now, but that’s where we are at.”


Connelly said he has bought and sold vintage vehicles for the past 30 years. He developed a love of cars during his time working with General Motors in Michigan prior to moving to Texas.


Despite opening his doors in May for visitors, Connelly said it wasn’t until August that he received his license to sell vehicles with the state of Texas. The city of Denison also changed its zoning ordinance this year to allow dealerships for vintage and performance vehicles in the central district with a conditional use permit in response to Connelly’s plans.


Connelly has been working on the showroom, which was previously an antiques auction house, since early February. He said he started seriously considering the showroom when the property went up for sale.


Prior to its time as an auction house, Connelly said the building was used as a Dodge dealership in the 1940s and 1950s. After the dealership was abandoned, the city changed its ordinance to restrict automotive businesses from downtown, he said.


Connelly said he feels the addition of a vintage car dealership will likely be a benefit to the downtown district as it brings in a new type of business that will likely attract visitors to the city’s core. As an example, Connelly said about 125 people visited the showroom over the Labor Day weekend, with most traveling from the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.


“I just think it (downtown) needs something like this to bring in a new crowd,” Connelly said. “Car collectors are an odd group; they often know about you even before you do.”