The AutoMotorPlex private garage condos are making news again this time with our presence on the 2019 Artisan Home Tour. Finance & Commerce Magazine interviewed founder and creator Bruno Silikowski of the AutoMotorPlex and Rick Carlson of Water Street Homes to discuss the specifics of this opportunity. Read on below to learn more.
‘Garage Mahals’ top $1 million
By: Anne Bretts June 1, 2019
You’ve seen luxury homes with sport courts, wine cellars, yoga rooms, theaters, she sheds and man caves. Now, take a peek into the world of the “Garage Mahal,” a luxury space where a car owner can entertain family and friends, host business gatherings, enjoy a private place to work — and, of course, display cars with the shine and sparkle of a dealership showroom.
A few even have workbenches and tools. What some don’t have are houses.
People are spending so much on their garages that builder Rick Carlson of Water Street Homes in Wayzata is making a bit of history this month. Carlson has the first garage ever featured in the BATC-Housing Minnesota’s Artisan Home Tour, which starts Friday. The garage is part of the Remodeler’s Weekend, which is open the last weekend of the tour, June 21-23. Check out last week’s column for details on times and tickets.
Carlson is displaying his buildout of the shell of a 6,000-square-foot car condominium, located in the AutoMotorPlex at 3630 Arrowhead Drive in Medina.
“I love the way it turned out,” Carlson said. The owner likes to entertain, so the upper level has both a full bar and lounge and a working kitchen for preparing food for events.Of course, the center of attention is the main floor, devoted to the owner’s cars. “It just has unique finishes,” he said. For example, instead of a traditional epoxy floor, Carlson created a custom surface with the look of marble.
“It’s so shiny you can look down at the floor and see the bottom of the car,” he said.
The condo is the second luxury garage Carlson has created for his client. The first was a large detached garage he built on the grounds of the client’s home. The two-story structure featured a vaulted ceiling, structural steel beams to create maximum open floor space for his collection and room to entertain.
The place would have made Jay Leno proud
Unfortunately, when the client and his family moved to a new house, he lost the garage. And because luxury garages don’t appeal to all buyers, he didn’t see a return on his investment, Carlson said.
The client decided to invest in a car condominium, where buyers pay for an unfinished shell in a complex where owners socialize, hold car shows and host business, family and charity events.
Carlson declined to get into the finances of the current project, but said the shell was $600,000 and the rules of the tour are that the new construction would have to total at least 60 percent of the value of the structure. That would mean at least $400,000 in renovations.
Bruno Silikowski, the owner, event organizer and chief booster for his AutoMotorplex in Medina, offered a rough estimate.
“This is a $1.2 million garage without a single car in it — and that’s not the most expensive one on the campus,” he said, offering a tour of jaw-dropping creations by some of the best builders in the Twin Cities. One owner had an entire barn in Wisconsin taken apart to provide the reclaimed wood interior. Another had the upper level turned into a golf course clubhouse, complete with wood paneling and a giant golf simulator so he could work on his swing over the winter.
Silikowski said he got the idea for a garage community from his own experience.
“I got tired of my kids using my Porsche as a kickstand for their bikes,” he said. He opened his first AutoMotorPlex in Chanhassen in 2008 and despite the recession had all 146 units sold by 2013. Today he still has a waiting list for any units that go on the market.
He broke ground in Medina in 2017 and has completed the first two buildings of 12 planned for the campus. Most will be condominiums, but two buildings along Arrowhead Drive will feature restaurants and auto-related retail.
Silikowski also is consulting with developers of four other complexes across the country.
“It’s not a cold weather thing,” he said of the appeal of the complexes. About 90 percent of units are owned by couples, and the places comes alive in the summer, when owners turn every weekend into a chance to visit with “neighbors.”
“It’s morphed into an urban cabin,” he said.
Carlson is a boutique builder, tackling fewer than five new homes and remodeling projects a year, nearly all for repeat clients. He enjoys working on garages, but notes that the margins are far lower than for traditional homes.
“There’s not enough in there to make it your business,” he said.
Buy your tickets for Artisan Home Tour online at artisanhometour.org or Holiday Stationstores and Bachman’s locations.