Mel Hambelton Ford buys west Kellogg land

One of Wichita’s biggest car dealers is adding land, acquiring 19 acres near its west Kellogg site to accommodate a detail shop and any future growth.

Mel Hambelton Ford, 11771 W. Kellogg, will acquire the Blasi Campground land at 11409 W. Kellogg, an adjoining former Automasters site and other land in deals that either have closed or will close later this month, dealership officials and the sellers confirmed this week. Sale prices were not disclosed.

Phil Nightingale, the dealership’s general manager, confirmed that the company has closed on the Automasters site and has contracts on the campground and an adjoining piece of property.

“As of right now, the only plans locked in stone are to open a detail shop in the Automasters building,” Nightingale said. “We’ve outgrown our site and we need more room.”

Nightingale said the detail shop will initially focus on the dealership’s used cars and trade-ins, roughly 30 a day.

“Beyond that, nothing’s locked in stone,” he said. “The land was available and we knew that we needed to make some moves.”

The campground sale ends four decades of business in the Blasi family, founded by the family patriarch, Vern, in 1971. During its heyday, the campground offered 84 parking spaces for recreational vehicles, other campers and overnighters. The campground featured a lake stocked with fish and its own water well, a swimming pool, tennis and basketball courts, a clubhouse and office.

The campground land went on the market in July, five years after Vern Blasi died, as the family struggled to operate it. Stan Blasi, Vern’s son, said in July that the project was too much for his mother, Theresa, to run. The land, which makes up 13.2 acres of the deal, went on the market in July for $877,000. The Blasi family operated the campgrounds, a tire store, gas station and convenience store on the site over the past four decades.

Vern Blasi was a longtime Wichita entrepreneur who was a fixture on the National Baseball Congress scene, as a player and as operator of the Blasi Oilers summer college baseball club.