BELLEVILLE — Wagner Buick GMC, a 100-year-old dealership, was acquired by another dealership, Wagner family members said in Facebook posts on Thursday.
Oliver C. Joseph Chrysler Dodge Jeep dealership across Illinois 15 is the new owner of Wagner.
Sandy Wagner, the wife of owner Rusty Wagner, posted the following message on her Facebook page Thursday:
"Today marks the beginning of a new chapter in the life of our Wagner family. As of 10 a. m. this morning, the Joseph Family is the new owner of Wagner Buick GMC. We are relieved and are confident that our 100 years will continue under their capable ownership. Please continue to support them as you have supported us."
Rusty Wagner could not be reached for comment.
Brad Joseph, owner of the Oliver C. Joseph dealership, declined to comment.
Sandy Wagner's Facebook post was liked by dozens of friends within hours. Several commenters wished the family well in retirement.
Michael Wagner, the couple's son, posted the following on his Facebook page:
"Friends, today the Wagner family transferred ownership of Wagner Motor Car Company to the Joseph family. Although ending a 100-year run is bittersweet, we are all excited about the energy that the Joseph's 98 years in the business will bring. My dad will still be working at the dealership and will be happy to continue to help everyone with their automotive needs. We thank you for your years of patronage support and hope that you will continue to support Brad as he takes over for my dad."
Mayor Mark Eckert declined to comment about the sale until Rusty Wagner made an official announcement.
"All I can say is when Rusty talks to me and tells me it's OK, I'll be glad to comment," Eckert said.
A sign at the Wagner dealership said the business will close at 4 p.m. Friday for a meeting. Also, Joseph's website says the business will close at 4 p.m. Friday for a company meeting.
On Thursday afternoon, Wagner's electronic billboard featured pictures of Joseph's cartoon moose logo. The message says, "LOOK, I Migrated."
Over the years, the city's total help for the car dealership has been at least $802,000.
In 2007, Wagner moved the family business to a new building on Illinois 15 from 4400 North Belt West with help from the city. The incentives included sales tax abatement of building materials, rebate of incremental property tax increases and up front payments from the city.
Then, according to a 2010 development agreement, the city approved $152,000 in tax increment financing to help the dealership reinstate its General Motors franchise. GM had terminated Wagner Motor Car Co. in May 2009 and ceased sending vehicles and parts, but reinstated the dealership in September 2009.
Also in 2010, the city approved two advances totaling $550,000, incentives promised in a 2005 agreement. The money was supposed to come from rebates of incremental property tax increases in the tax increment financing district.
In exchange, Wagner commited to investing at least $6 million to build the new dealership, have 43 full-time employees and operate for at least another 25 years.
BND reporters Maria Hasenstab, Will Buss and Jacqueline Lee contributed to this report.